Zuma sending special team to Israel

2014-07-22 14:21
Smoke and fire rise from an Israeli missle strike in Rafah. (AP)

Smoke and fire rise from an Israeli missle strike in Rafah. (AP)

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Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma is to send a special team to Israel and Palestine as fighting in the Gaza strip intensifies, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Tuesday.

"The restoration of lasting peace in the Middle East is in our interest," Nkoana-Mashabane said while delivering her budget vote speech in Parliament.

"In this respect, President Zuma will be dispatching a team, led by our former deputy minister Aziz Pahad, to Israel and Palestine to convey our growing concern with the escalation of violence there, including the endless wanton killing of Palestinian civilians and the destruction of homes in Gaza."

Zuma would invite Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to undertake a working visit to South Africa.

Nkoana-Mashabane's comments come two days after Zuma called on both the Israeli defence force and Hamas militia to stop hostilities.

Zuma called on Israel to withdraw troops from the Gaza strip, while at the same time condemning Hamas's firing of rockets into Israel.

He called on the two sides to agree on a ceasefire and resume talks aimed at finding a permanent solution to their conflict.

Tuesday marked the 15th day of the deadliest violence in the enclave in five years.

News agency Agence France-Presse reported that close to 600 people had been killed so far.

Read more on:    maite nkoana-mashabane  |  jacob zuma  |  israel  |  palestine  |  middle east peace  |  gaza conflict
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