Palestinian delegation cozies up to S. African ruling party at conference

A decision whether to downgrade the country's embassy in Israel will be made by the ANC this week.

December 17, 2017 14:44
2 minute read.
Palestinian delegation cozies up to S. African ruling party at conference

Members of the Palestinian Authority Majed Al-Fetyani and Jibril Rajoub pose with Nelson Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela Saturday at the ANC National Conference in Johannesburg. (photo credit: COURTESY ZAID NORDIEN)

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have sent representatives to the 54th African National Congress conference now taking place in Johannesburg, at which the country’s ruling party is set to decide by Wednesday whether to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel.

Hamas Politburo members Muhammad Nazzal and Maher Obeid said they wanted to observe the processes of democracy within the ANC and were especially interested in debate on a recommendation from the party’s July policy conference that proposed downgrading the embassy.

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Following a meeting between senior Hamas and ANC leaders in 2015, the two parties established a fraternal relationship, said a Hamas statement released on Friday. It added that Hamas will join representatives of other ANC partner organizations from around the world at the conference, during which the ANC will elect new leadership.

“The ANC’s adoption of a resolution on downgrading, or shutting down, the South African Embassy in Tel Aviv will take Palestinian solidarity to a new level,” said Nazzal, who is leading the Hamas delegation.
ANC 54th national conference opens in Johannesburg, December 17, 2017 (Reuters)

“Our leadership has already expressed our unequivocal support for the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] campaign as a critical form of resistance against the apartheid state [Israel]. And it is in this context that we welcome the discussion about downgrading South Africa’s presence in Israel,” South Africa’s Daily Maverick newspaper reported Nazzal as saying. “It will establish South Africa at the forefront – especially in Africa – of solidarity efforts to liberate the Palestinian people. We have confidence that ANC delegates will consider all this and will adopt this resolution enthusiastically.

“The ANC has been, and remains, a comradely and steadfast partner to the Palestinian people and to Palestinian resistance, and Hamas’s interaction with ANC leadership and members assures us that they will remain friends and allies of the Palestinian struggle. Palestinians and South Africans together must build a global coalition that will deepen the isolation of the apartheid Israeli state.” Nazzal was quoted as saying.

He added that just as various countries – including in the European Union, the United States and Israel – have listed Hamas as a terrorist organization alongside Boko Haram and the Islamic State, the ANC was also once considered a terrorist organization.
Meanwhile, the PA’s Jibril Rajoub told the conference on Saturday that just as he and Fatah welcomed the recommendation “of downgrading South Africa’s representation in Israel,” he hoped the Israeli Embassy in South Africa would also be downgraded.

“We believe that such action will put pressure on Israel to end its illegal occupation and its persistent violation of international law,” he said. “We appreciate all efforts to delegitimize the occupation. Our Palestinian people and leadership will highly appreciate any further adoptions of sanctions and policies against Israel and occupation.”

Apart from meeting leaders of the ANC, South Africa’s Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the delegation is also scheduled to meet with leaders of religious, political and civil organizations, including Palestinian solidarity groups.

The ANC conference takes place every five years.

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