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Political parties divided on conflict in Gaza

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Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Naledi Pandor stuck to her guns, saying that the conflict in the Middle East has reached unprecedented levels and the international community must intervene and stop it.

Political parties have taken different positions on the conflict in Gaza. Picture: Leon Lestrade, Independent Newspapers

THE ECONOMIC Freedom Fighters (EFF) called for the severing of ties with Israel, saying the recall of diplomatic officials by government was not enough as Israel continues with its policy of collective punishment and killing women and children.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) said cutting ties with Israel was not the best way of addressing the crisis, and this would complicate the situation in a time of war.

Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Naledi Pandor stuck to her guns, saying that the conflict in the Middle East has reached unprecedented levels and the international community must intervene and stop it.

Addressing the National Assembly on Monday, during the debate on the conflict in the Middle East, EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said Israel must be isolated in the way South Africa was isolated during apartheid.

He said the decision by government to recall diplomatic officials was not enough, and they want it to cut all ties with Israel.

“Why are we friends with people who are violating the values of our Constitution? Why are we friends with people who are massacring children in hospitals and schools? What must happen? What must be said for the whole world to isolate Israel? Palestinians, for the longest time, never asked you for a single bullet. They have asked you for a simple thing: isolate Israel the way the world isolated apartheid. When are you doing that? Let’s sever ties with Israel because a relationship with Israel as South Africans offends our constitutional values,” said Ndlozi.

Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Emma Powell said all leaders in South Africa must come together to seek peace in the Middle East.

However, she warned that the African National Congress (ANC) government has already taken a position in the conflict.

She accused the government of lacking credibility to deal with the crisis in the region.

However, she said it was in the interest of all South Africans that there should be peace and stability in Israel and Palestine.

“This crisis can only be brought to an end by those driven by peace-building, reconciliation, and possibility. The question that all of us in this House must ask ourselves is how we can each be honest brokers of peace. Despite the lessons imparted by the giants of our democracy, some amongst us today have already descended into a tug of war and are now entirely blinded by it,” said Powell.

IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the peace process in the Middle East must be salvaged.

He said the only solution to the war in the Middle East was for all sides to sit down around the negotiating table.

There will be no solution to the war if the parties involved do not agree to the peace process, Hlengwa said.

However, he said the government has made the wrong decision to recall diplomatic officials from Tel Aviv.

The policy to isolate Israel will not work, he said.

“Further, as the IFP, we want to caution the South African government that isolationism in a time of war is not a solution. Recalling – or dismissing – ambassadors merely amounts to regressive diplomacy, which in turn complicates negotiations. If South Africa is truly to be a trusted mediator committed to reaching a negotiated peace, all parties to the conflict must be treated in the same way,” said Hlengwa.

GOOD Party MP Brett Herron also called for the review of diplomatic ties with Israel.

He said they cannot look away when crimes are perpetrated in Palestine. But all sides have to engage in a ceasefire to stop the ongoing conflict.

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