The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Pretoria in collaboration with the Department of International Relations and Cooporation (DIRCO) and the Palestinian Embassy in South Africa commemorated the United Nations International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People with a seminar at DIRCO on Wednesday 29 November 2017 in Pretoria. This day is observed annually to create awareness for the ongoing plight of the Palestinian nation. Representatives from the Government of South Africa, various embassies and high commissions as well as civil society were present at the seminar.
H.E. Ambassador Hashem Dajani, Ambassador of the State of Palestine began the proceedings by acknowledging that Africa is a key role player in the emancipation of the Palestinian nation and that South Africa, in particular, has a responsibility to stand in solidarity with Palestine because it has a history of colonialism and apartheid. He also made reference to Oliver R. Tambo, a South African anti-apartheid politician and revolutionary who served as President of the African National Congress (ANC). Ambassador Ebrahim Saley on behalf of the Minister of International Relations and Corporation, Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane, conveyed a message of support to the people of Palestine.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Nabeel Shaath, the Advisor to the President of Palestine on Foreign and International Relations, made reference to some of the achievements the Palestinian people have made despite the ongoing adversity they face on a daily basis. He highlighted the resilience of Palestinians saying, “We have built an independent economy…We’ve expanded education, today there is zero illiteracy between the ages of six to sixty… Our women have succeeded in education and in participation of building the economy and building our society”.
Other speakers of the day who participated in the panel discussion were Ambassador Ammar Hijazi from the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs who addressed the topic: “The crime of apartheid under international law and its applicability to the occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem”. The second panelist, Professor Garth Le Pere, from the University of Pretoria, focussed his contribution on the issue of “Colonialism in Africa in relation to Israeli oppression”. The third panelist, Judge Navi Pillay, a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, talked about colonization, discrimination and apartheid.
UNIC Pretoria Director Masimba Tafirenyika, conveyed the commemorative message of UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres who said that he remained “convinced that the two-state solution recognized by that resolution [General Assembly Resolution 181; a sovereign and independent State of Palestine] is the only premise for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The resolution of this conflict would also create momentum for greater stability throughout the region”.