Mass prayer vigil to be held in South Africa to support peace between Israelis, Palestinians

The prayer vigil will launch the Tshwane-Jerusalem Declaration for Harmonious Relations Between South Africa and Israel in hopes of furthering diplomatic relations between the two countries.

 People hold up Israeli flags at the annual Jerusalem Day flag march. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
People hold up Israeli flags at the annual Jerusalem Day flag march.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Hundreds of pastors are set to offer prayers on Thursday outside the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria for the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation and minister Naledi Pandor to support peace in the Middle East.

The pastors have gathered under the banner South African Friends of Israel and are voicing their disapproval of recent South African foreign policy towards the Jewish state — noting statements made by the South African government that they deem hostile.

As part of the mass prayer vigil, the pastors will launch the Tshwane-Jerusalem Declaration for Harmonious Relations Between South Africa and Israel in hopes of furthering diplomatic relations between the two countries.

This will reportedly be the start of prayer rallies from church groups throughout South Africa that will culminate in one large prayer rally this November in Johannesburg.

What does the Tshwane-Jerusalem Declaration say?

Other than calling on the South African government to re-establish friendly relations with Israel, the declaration also notes the rejection of "our religious beliefs, expression and values through its partisan position on the Holy Land of Israel."

The declaration also calls on the government to not remove the South African ambassador to Israel and to "desist from futile attempts to strip Israel of its accreditation to the African Union."

 PRO-PALESTINIAN SUPPORTERS demonstrate outside the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. (credit: REUTERS) PRO-PALESTINIAN SUPPORTERS demonstrate outside the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. (credit: REUTERS)

In addition, it claims that the South African government dishonors the "legacy of our people’s noble struggle against apartheid by equating it to the extremism of such Jew-hating organizations, such as the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), Hamas" and other terror groups that launch attacks against Israel. 

The declaration also states that the government must not associate with anyone who denies the right of Israel to exist as an independent country, while also acknowledging the self-determination of the Palestinian people as well and citing the government's support of a two-state solution.

To support their statement, the document quotes South Africa's first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, when he said: "We insist on the right of the state of Israel to exist within secure borders but with equal vigor support the Palestinian right to national self-determination."