President Zuma calls for solution in Gaza

By Drum Digital
04 August 2014

President Jacob Zuma took an opportunity on Monday to express South Africa's views on the conflict between Israel and Palestine at a meeting with local and United States business people.

"Allow me... to express our outrage at the continued violence that is claiming scores of lives of civilians in Palestine," he said at a US-South African Business and Investment Forum in Washington.

"We reiterate that there will never be a military solution to the Israel-Palestinian question."

Zuma said the two sides needed to sit and talk so that they could arrive at an internationally agreed solution of two states.

According to Agence France-Presse, authorities say at least 9000 Gazans have been wounded and rights groups have estimated that more than 10,000 houses were destroyed or badly damaged by Israel.

More than 250,000 Palestinians -- about 15 per cent of the population --have fled their homes in Gaza. About half of the territory is deemed unsafe for civilians.

More than 1800 Palestinians, as well 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians have died in the recent fighting.

United States ambassador to South Africa, Patrick Gaspard, told Sapa that US president Barack Obama had also expressed that his country did not believe military intervention would solve the conflict in the region.

"President Zuma rightly expressed concern about the loss of civilian life and we've done the same," he said on the sidelines of the business forum.

"He also said something that President Obama has said numerous times. We of course share that perspective. Secretary [John] Kerry has articulated that very clearly when he travelled to the region numerous times."

Gaspard said the US believed there was a foundation for a two-state solution and it would carry on pressing for that.

Thousands of people protested outside the White House north lawns on Saturday against what they called the US support of Israel.

People draped themselves in Palestinian flags and black and white scarves, chanting "you should be ashamed", "Palestine will never die" and "free, free Palestine".

Many held big yellow and black posters which read: "Free Palestine, let Gaza live", "End US support of Israel occupation" and "Israel killing children with USA bombs".

*Flight and hotel costs for Sapa's reporter covering the summit were paid by the presidency.*

-SAPA

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