Ramallah – Mandla Mandela who is having meetings with Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, has called on South Africans to support the Palestinian struggle just like his grandfather Nelson Mandela did as President. Speaking from the occupied territories, Mandla Mandela quoted his grandfather’s 1997 statement, “Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinian people.”
“It is now for the next generation to uphold his commitment to the Palestinian people,” Mandela said.
Mandela is visiting the Palestinian territories as part of international solidarity month with the Palestinian struggle and has called his visit a fact-finding mission. While he is not scheduled to meet Israeli officials on this visit, Mandela met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, Chief Whip of Fatah Azzam al-Ahmad, Director of the Arafat Foundation Nasser Alkidwa, the Governor of Jericho Majed Al Fityani, and a range of non-governmental organizations.
Speaking about the visit, Israeli Ambassador to South Africa Lior Keinan said, “South Africa has a lot to contribute to the Middle East as it solved the conflict here peacefully, but to understand the full picture we wish Mandla Mandela would engage with both parties.”
On Tuesday Mandela undertook site visits to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron.
“We would like the ANC to solidify relations with the PLO, and our aim is to see an MOU signed at the ANC’s elective conference in December,” Mandela said. Mandela also hopes to link the celebrations of what would have been his grandfather’s centenary in 2018 with the issue of peace and justice for the Palestinians. A range of activities to celebrate Mandela’s legacy are being planned for the forthcoming year.
While Mandela has advocated a shutdown of relations with Israel, he says it is for the South African government to assess whether or not to downgrade its mission in the Israeli capital Tel Aviv.
“We have requested our President to look into how an Israeli parliamentary delegation came to South Africa recently, when no South African government official is allowed to travel to Israel. Our Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete made it clear that the delegation was not welcome in parliament,” Mandela said.
Discussions concerning the South African position on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict are set to be heated during the ANC December conference which is set to begin December 16th.
Independent Foreign Service