President Cyril Ramaphosa has compared the peace plan by US President Donald Trump and his ally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to that of the South African apartheid system.
In his first statement as chairperson of the African Union (AU) in Ethiopia, Ramaphosa said Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh's speech on US/Israeli peace plans was reminiscent of the Bantustan homelands system established by the apartheid government.
In January, Trump and Netanyahu unveiled a peace plan in the White House that granted Israel much of what it had sought in decades of international diplomacy, namely control over Jerusalem as its "undivided" capital rather than a city to share with the Palestinians, News24 earlier reported.
Trump's plan also offered a US green light for Israel to annex the strategically crucial Jordan Valley - which accounts for around 30% of the West Bank - as well as other Jewish settlements in the area.
"It brought to mind the chronicled history that we as South Africans went through. The apartheid regime once imposed the Bantustan system on the people of South Africa without consulting them and with all the oppressive elements which that plan had.
"As I listened to the Arab League and as I listened to colleagues from Palestine, its sounds like this plan has been consulted without all the people that matter and it sounds like a Bantustan type of construct."
He affirmed the AU's position on the conflict between the Israeli government and its counterparts in Palestine.
Trump's plan condemned
Ramaphosa's statements came after AU commission chairperson Moussa Faki, League of Arab States (LAS) secretary-general Ahmed Gheit and Palestine Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh condemned Trump's plan in their own statements at the ordinary session.
Shtayyeh said it had no international baseline, adding Trump had "turned a deaf ear" to international legitimacy.
He added the US president's plan deepened the occupation of Israel, depriving the people of Palestine from enjoying their natural resources.
"The US has not found one single ally in this plan. We have always been committed to political solutions based on international legitimacy and legality, but this American plan will give the entire Jerusalem to Israel and encourages settlements and gives more settlements behaviour and vehicle in our land," Shtayyeh said.
"The Palestinian people will be torn apart and the Palestinian people will live in Bantustans within a regime of apartheid. A regime that you struggled against."
Faki also had strong words for Trump, saying that the American president's plan was a violation of AU and UN resolutions.
The AU has long held a view of the Palestinian people's right to exclusive statehood with occupied East Jerusalem as its capital.
Gheit extended his appreciation to the AU for its support of the Palestinian cause and applauded Faki for his leadership role in championing for the rights of the Palestinian people.
"I am confident that Africa will maintain its established commitment in standing with the struggle of the Palestinian people in their rejection of the unjust deal as was articulated by the Palestinian leadership, LAS, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and European Union," Gheit said.