NC4P encouraged by South African Parliament's support for Palestinian struggle
25 November 2016
Representatives of the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) had a successful meeting this week (Wednesday 23 November) at the South African Parliament. The NC4P delegation was led by our Chairperson, Reverend Edwin Arrison and included members from affiliate organizations including a student rep, clergy and representatives from BDS South Africa, South African Jews for a Free Palestine, the Muslim Judicial Council, ANC YL, UCT PSF, YCL, Al Quds Foundation, Kairos Southern Africa and others.
The NC4P met with members of parliament belonging to the the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation as well as members from the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, Portfolio Committee on Minerals and the Portfolio Committee on Economic Development.
During the meeting we observed strong support for human rights and the Palestinian struggle, in particular, from MPs belonging to the EFF and the ANC.
We were also encouraged by the presence and the strong input by ANC Member of Parliament, Chief Mandla Mandela, who explained that he was specially attending the Parliamentary session on Palestine because the struggle of the people of Palestine is something that was close to his grandfather Nelson Mandela as well as an issue "very close" to his own heart.
Mandla Mandela (MP) said during the Parliamentary session:"We have an obligation, as during apartheid, to mobilize against Israeli apartheid. The time for talk is over...we must intensify our efforts because this is one of the great moral issues of our time. It is not a Muslim, or anti-Jewish issue, but one of human rights abuses." (CLICK HERE
Parliamentarians were generally supportive of the various issues raised by the NC4P including the request to take a special Parliamentary Fact Finding mission to the Palestinian Gaza Strip. The Gaza strip is the most densely populated land on earth
, completely blockaded by the Israeli regime forming what Archbishop Desmond Tutu has termed, the largest open air prison in the world. In 2014, in its attacks on the Palestinian Gaza Strip, according to the UN, Israel killed more than 2000 Palestinians including 551 children (CLICK HERE
“It is important that it [the MPs trip to the Palestinian Gaza Strip] happens so that Members are better informed on material conditions of the situation in Gaza” said
Mr Siphosezwe Masango, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations.
In our report back to the public we must also report our disappointment that the opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), stated that they were "neutral" on the injustices committed by Israel. Archbishop Tutu has previously addressed this problem saying: "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel was also discussed but members of the DA opposed the BDS movement arguing that a boycott against Israel would harm the indigenous Palestinians. The NC4P as well as ANC MPs responded by pointing out that a similar false argument was made by Margaret Thatcher
when she falsely argued that a boycott against Apartheid South Africa would have harmed indigenous Black South Africans.
The Portfolio Committee's whip, ANC MP Bheki Radebe, requested names from the NC4P of South Africans illegally serving in the Israeli Defence Force so that Parliament could ensure investigations and prosecution.
The Israeli Embassy allegedly wrote a letter to South Africa's Parliament a week before the scheduled NC4P meeting urging that Parliament not engage with the NC4P. We would like to thank Parliament for rejecting this external pressure.
As human rights activists we welcome the ongoing friendship and relationship between parliament and civil society in our efforts to support the people of Palestine who suffer under Israel's apartheid regime.
Parliament's Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation will now submit a report with recommendations to the National Assembly for adoption as a resolution of Parliament. A report will also be submitted with recommendations to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Baleka Mbete. Mbete has previously commented that “Apartheid in South Africa was a picnic compared" to Israel's occupation of Palestine. (CLICK HERE
Reverend Edwin Arrison, Chairperson of the National Coalition 4 Palestine (NC4P)
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The NC4P is a coalition of various South African human rights organizations, trade unions, faith based groups and other associations.