SA calls for lifting of Palestinian sanctions

Sanctions against Palestinians should be lifted to help their politicians form a coalition government, South Africa's government said on Thursday. Defense Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said the government welcomed the power-sharing deal reached last week in Mecca clearing the way for a coalition between Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's Hamas group and PA President Mahmoud Abbas's moderate Fatah Party. It would "be very wise if the sanctions of the EU and the US were lifted to encourage the strengthening of this coalition," Lekota said Wednesday during a parliamentary briefing. "We think this would create a better atmosphere for the solution of the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict," he said. South Africa recently made the same call in the UN Security Council for ending sanctions against Palestinians. "We urge the international community to ease its financial blockade against the Palestinian Authority, particularly, we urge Israel to release all Palestinian tax revenues. These funds are urgently required to alleviate their socio-economic hardships, including the deteriorating Palestinian institutions," said South Africa's Ambassador to the UN, Dumisani Kumalo. Palestinians have faced crippling international sanctions since the anti-Israel Hamas was elected to government in January.