Israel unleashing violence on Palestinian civilians 'totally unacceptable' - Sisulu

2018-05-15 13:08
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SEE: 20 striking pictures from Israeli-Gaza border clashes

Israel is bracing for a second day of violent clashes as Palestinians mark the "Nakba" (catastrophe), marking the 1948 war which led to Israel's creation.

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu has condemned Israel's use of deadly force on Palestinian civilians and said it is totally unacceptable.

"It is a disaster that shouldn't happen in our time," Sisulu said toward the end of the media briefing on her department's budget for 2018 - 2019.

Much of the briefing was spent on Monday's violence, where the Israeli defence force killed at least 58 people and wounded more than 2 700 who protested along the Gaza border as the US opened its controversial new embassy in contested Jerusalem.

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Sisulu said that on Monday evening she spoke with US secretary of state Mark Pompeo.

She wanted a discussion with him for a couple of weeks, but they kept missing each other. But after Monday's events, she couldn't wait any longer.

"I asked that he be taken out of whatever meeting he was in because I needed to talk with him."

'Honest broker'

READ: Gaza deaths spark widespread condemnation of Israel

She said she asked if the US could reconsider to move its embassy to Jerusalem. She Pompeo said sadly they could not, as the decision has already been made.

Sisulu's deputy, Luwellyn Landers, said: "Effectively the US removed itself as the honest broker between Israel and Palestine. It was rather unfortunate, this decision [to move the embassy from Tel Aviv]."

Sisulu also said she wants to reach out to the South African Jewish community and sit down with them to explain why it is unacceptable.

"I want them to condemn it with us," she said.

South Africa decided to withdraw its ambassador to Israel, Sisa Ngombane, with immediate effect on Monday.

The ANC parliamentary caucus also condemned the violence and commended the government for withdrawing Ngombane.

"This is a mild but apt diplomatic response," ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said in a statement.

"Our democratic Parliament believes that peaceful protest marches are a normal civic or political activity in the whole civilised world. There was absolutely no reason for the Israel armed forces to mercilessly mow down unarmed protesters in the Gaza Strip [on Monday].

"We call for a cessation of hostilities, resumption of truthful and honest negotiations on the part of Israel and a peaceful co-existence of the state of Palestine and Israel."

DA disappointed, EFF support

He said the ANC in Parliament would continue to work with government and all progressive forces in the world "for the liberation of Palestine to isolate the murderous Israel apartheid regime".

DA spokesperson for international relations Stevens Mokgalapa also condemned the violence, but said the DA was disappointed that the government withdrew Ngombane "at precisely at a time when South Africa should be showing leadership.

"This is a departure of the South African government position of a two-state solution. This position has also been adopted by the South African Parliament - any change in this position would need to be considered and decided on by Parliament. This has not taken place," Mokgalapa said in a statement.

"The DA is committed to a two-state solution, where Israel and Palestine exist side by side, which is the position of the South African government as well as the United Nations. We believe that, because of our history, South Africa has the legitimacy and authority to act as steward in brokering peace in the Middle East."

The EFF on Monday said it supported the withdrawal of Ngombane and also called on SA to expel the Israeli ambassador.

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