Non-Aligned Movement supports Israel boycott, ambassador withdrawal

2014-08-07 11:46

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A meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement, which was attended by International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Nomaindia Mfeketo, has come out in support of a boycott of Israel and a withdrawal of ambassadors.

In a strongly worded declaration following the emergency meeting in Tehran, Iran, the movement’s ministerial committee on Palestine said it welcomed “all initiatives undertaken by several countries to boycott Israeli products and withdraw their ambassadors from Israel, including by many Latin American countries, and encouraged all other member states to do so”.

The group of states consists of 115 members, and represents the interests and priorities of developing countries.

In the declaration, which was released by the department of international relations and cooperation, the ministers “strongly condemned the lethal, indiscriminate and excessive use of force by Israel, the occupying power, against Palestinian civilians and vital civilian infrastructure”.

The ministers also expressed support for the Algerian initiative “to convene an emergency meeting of the United Nations General Assembly to address the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and mobilise the international community in this regard”.

Department spokesperson Clayson Monyela said Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane would only be in a position to comment after being briefed by Mfeketo on her return to South Africa. Mfeketo was accompanied by President Jacob Zuma’s special envoys to the Middle East, Zola Skweyiya and Aziz Pahad.

Israel’s ambassador to South Africa, Arthur Lenk, said Zuma represented the official view of the ANC and of the country, and he had not given any backing for such calls.

Zuma, who was in Washington for a United States-Africa leaders summit, this week repeated calls for a peaceful solution to the conflict and volunteered South Africa’s help in finding a resolution.

Lenk said: “There is a ceasefire now, and Israel is working for it to hold so that the demilitarisation can begin, and the lives of Israeli and Palestinian citizens can improve.”

The government has resisted mounting pressure from within the ANC and its alliance partners for stronger action against Israel in response to the military attacks and loss of lives in Gaza.

South Africa is a member of the group’s committee on Palestine, together with Algeria, Bangladesh, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Palestine, Senegal, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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