South Africa’s Parliamentary Portfolio Committee held a “Solidarity Conference in Support of the Peoples of Palestine, Western Sahara and Cuba” on Thursday, 6th February. The session was opened by an icon of the anti-apartheid struggle, Ahmed Kathrada. He was followed to the podium by South Africa’s Deputy Minister of International Relations, Marius Fransman; the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on International Relations, Mr Tisetso Magama, MP; and the Ambassadors of Cuba, Palestine and Western Sahara.
The Palestine solidarity human rights organisation, BDS South Africa, welcomed the resolutions and recommendations of the conference. In particular, the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign group was pleased to see the recommendation to forward the 2009 Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) report, which found Israel guilty of Apartheid, to international bodies including the International Parliamentary Union, the International Criminal Court, the United Nations and the African Union.
The parliamentary conference was attended by MPs as well as a wide range of civil society organisations including representatives from South Africa’s largest trade union, COSATU; the South African Communist Party (SACP); the African National Congress (ANC); the African National Congress Youth League (ANC Youth League); the Congress of the People (COPE); the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF); the Coalition for a Free Palestine (CFP); the Friends of Cuba Society (FOCUS); the Western Sahara Solidarity Forum; Kairos Southern Africa; the Media Review Network (MRN); African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP); BDS South Africa and some members of the South African Jewish community who identify with the struggles of Palestine, Cuba and Western Sahara.
“The solidarity conference is a first of its kind in parliament,” explained Mr Magama. “It is a culmination of extensive work carried out… in response to the call by President Zuma in his successive State of the Nation addresses since 2010, with a message that solidarity should feature as a strong element of South Africa’s internationalism… The primary focus of the conference is to make the people of South Africa aware of the common challenges facing the peoples of Cuba, Palestine and Western Sahara relating to the denial of human rights.”
The full list of recommendations and resolutions adopted by the Parliamentary conference on the issue of Palestine follows below.
SOUTH AFRICAN PARLIAMENT’S INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS CONFERENCE
RESOLUTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ON PALESTINE
06 February 2014
1. South Africa has a legal obligation under the Rome Statute to set up a special court to deal with war crimes, this needs to be urgently setup. South Africa must expeditiously deal with the “Gaza Docket” and deal with South Africans serving in the Israeli Defence Force;
2. The 2009 Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) report that found Israel guilty of Apartheid should be adopted by South Africa’s Parliament and by the South African government. The HSRC report must also be referred to international bodies including the International Parliamentary Union, the International Criminal Court, the United Nations and the African Union.
3. South Africa has a legal obligation and must stop all financial transactions with Israeli settlement companies as well as banks and companies involved in the Israeli settlements. This would be in line with developments in Europe and other countries.
4. On the global arena South Africa must lobby for the financial and other support of the Palestinians for socioeconomic development after the end of the illegal Israeli occupation.
5. The South African government must support Palestinian students, as a concrete act of solidarity, similar to how India, Cuba and other countries supported South Africa during the 1980s.
6. Entrance into South Africa for Palestinians must be made easier.
7. The Palestinian health system must be supported beyond people capacity. Infrastructure in Gaza, West Bank and refugee camps must be supported.
8. Conference supports the Robben Island Declaration for the freedom of Marwan Barghouti and all Palestinian Political prisoners.
9. Conference supports the Palestinian-led call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) issued by the majority of Palestinians. Complete military, financial and political sanctions must be applied against Israel until it complies with all applicable UN resolutions and international law and ends its occupation.
10. All South African political parties must clearly communicate their stance on the plight of the Palestinian people and make it timeously known in the build-up to 2014 elections.
11. Witness and solidarity visits to Palestine should be encouraged, for example, through the World Council of Churches EAPPI programme.
12. South Africa should build and strengthen an international diplomatic block in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
13. The South African government and parliament must campaign for Israel to be suspended from the SWIFT banking network.
14. Palestinian reconciliation efforts must be encouraged and supported.
15. Our government and parliament must table the above at the AU, UN and IPU.