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Africa shares long history of solidarity with Palestinian people

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Members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Cape Town picketing outside the Jewish Museum.This is after Israeli Occupation Forces invaded Al-Aqsa, brutally beating people and detaining 500 people. Picture: Phando Jikelo / African News Agency (ANA)

In an interview with Noni Mokati, Palestinian ambassador to South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Malawi Hanan Jarrar reflects on the plight the Palestinian people continue to face at the hands of the Israeli government in the West Bank including Africa’s solidarity with Palestine.

Do you think that support for Palestine on the African continent is growing or does more work need to be done?

Solidarity between Palestine and African countries, in general, is not something new. It’s deeply rooted in the 1950s and 1960s when most of the African countries were colonies.

At that time, we were partners, brothers who stood shoulder to shoulder. This is why Palestine saw it fit to establish the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) working closely with African revolutionary movements. As a result, in those days, we vastly supported these revolutionary movements in the form of training and the provision of machinery.

It would be worth noting that in general, we share a long history of friendship, solidarity and a common struggle against aggression and oppression with most African states. This is why our relations are deeply rooted.

We however do find that at times, some African countries tend to refrain from supporting Palestine. We believe that this is due to internal economic situations or internal political situations that make it relatively difficult for them to pledge allegiance to us but solidarity is always there.

Palestinian ambassador to South Africa, Namibia , Lesotho and Malawi Hanan Jarrar in an interview with Noni Mokati. Picture: Oupa Mokoena? African News Agency (ANA)

Israel has previously labelled South Africa and Algeria as countries that are driven by hate. It went further to say that SA and Algeria are holding the AU hostage. This comes after a senior Israeli diplomat was removed from an AU Summit meeting in February this year. What is Palestine’s view on this notion?

Lately, we are seeing a growing rejection of Israel in matters concerning the continent and its complete participation in the African Union. We see that the African continent in general, particularly, the SADC region has not changed its position on Palestine and the fact that our people need to be free from oppression.

We believe that this is a result of the principled position of the African countries in supporting Palestine.

As Palestinians, we are not silent on the plight that the African continent continues to face in terms of development, political instability and security. We have made an immense contribution to the liberation of people on the continent.

We have also intervened where necessary through our Palestinian International Cooperation Agency (PICA), established by a presidential decree by President Mahmoud Abbas in January 2016. You see, PICA’s main target or preoccupation is to support African countries.

We have more than 22 programmes of support – through technical means of establishing developmental programmes in different countries.

What makes us different from Israel and the West is that ours is not to coerce African countries into forming relations for political gain.

We do what we do because we stand with our principles in supporting those who used to help us in the past.

On 7 March, the South African Parliament passed a resolution to downgrade the country’s diplomatic representation in Israel from an embassy to a liaison office.

Palestine welcomes the historic motion adopted by the South African Parliament to downgrade its embassy in Israel to a liaison office. This motion demonstrates South Africa’s commitment to standing with the Palestinian people.

It is a testament to the power of people’s movements and solidarity in the face of oppression.

Despite the rising violence and pogrom by Israeli settlers in the West Bank, we celebrate the recent vote as a historic moment.

This vote has highlighted the fact that Israel’s brutal occupation is rooted in apartheid policies, which aim to erase, marginalise, and dehumanise Palestinians.

What is the latest update on the events in the West Bank ?

Since the beginning of this year, more than 90 Palestinians have been assassinated by the Israeli occupation forces. This is clear because the current Israeli government has operated in a dubious manner.

The programme of the current Israeli government is crystal clear.

It is to carry out annexation, settlement expansion, the assassination of Palestinian freedom fighters, raids on Palestinian homes and towns, mass displacement of Palestinian families and communities and a call for ethnic cleansing.

In other words, if we want to sum up the programme of the Israeli government, it is an apartheid regime.

In light of the assassination of our people, the Palestinian government has resolved that the best solution is to approach international platforms such as the International Court of Justice to provide an advisory opinion on the consequences of the prolonged Israeli oppression and the legal status that Palestine has of Palestine.

*Noni Mokati is the editor of The African.