PRESS RELEASE: President Zuma’s State of the Nation reminder of boycotts welcomed by Palestinian supporters

Palestinians and those that support the Palestinian struggle against "Israeli Apartheid", particularly members of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel movement, take note and welcome President Jacob Zuma’s reminder in his State of the Nation address last night that: "Democratic South Africa’s foreign policy was shaped many decades ago during the fierce international campaign to isolate the apartheid state. ANC President Oliver Tambo played a key role in that regard, assisted by among others, the late Johnny Makatini, former head of international affairs."

It is well known that the Palestinians take inspiration from the South African struggle. In 2005 the Palestinians issued a call, based on the successful boycott and isolation of Apartheid South Africa, for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to be applied against Israel as a non-violent method to hold Israel accountable to international law, isolate it from the international community and bring about the necessary conditions for a just peace to be negotiated with the indigenous Palestinians. In recent years the Palestinian BDS campaign against Israel has achieved several major victories in Europe, the USA, South Africa and elsewhere (see:

Last year, in his 2013 State of the Nation address, President Jacob Zuma stressed the importance of “solidarity" in shaping South Africa's foreign policy as well as reaffirmed South Africa's support for the Palestinian people (together with the people of Western Sahara and Cuba), he said: "South Africa’s internationalism has a strong element of solidarity to it…we [as South Africans] stand with the people of Palestine as they strive to turn a new leaf in their struggle for their right to self-determination”. President Zuma went on to add that: "The expansion of Israeli settlements into Palestinian territories is a serious stumbling block to the resolution of the conflict.” (

The condemnation by President Zuma of Israeli settlements in 2013, together with the President’s reminder in 2014 of South Africa’s history of boycotts, we trust, will lead the South African government to take decisive action against Apartheid Israel in coming months. In addition to concretely supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, as a first step (and to simply come into line with international law) South Africa must immediately ban all trade and financial transactions with Israeli settlement companies similar to the steps taken in recent months by several European countries and companies. This must be followed by an ending of all diplomatic, economic and other relations with Apartheid Israel until it abides by international law and negotiates a just peace with the indigenous Palestinians.
We welcome the resolutions taken recently at the successful conference convened by the South African Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on International Relations, particularly the resolution adopted by the conference in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign. The people of Palestine and others across the globe have noted the recent Parliamentary conference with great of appreciation. This is what has been expected of South Africa. A sense of anticipation regarding the roll-out thereof exists.  We urge President Zuma, the South African Parliament and our Government to act on these decisions as matters of priority and urgency to ensure the practical roll-out and implementation. We dare not disappoint ourselves and those who stand with us in this matter.
We know from our history that boycotts and the international isolation of Apartheid played a significant role in our liberation. We acknowledge and take inspiration from the work carried out by Comrades Oliver Tambo, Johnny Makatini and others who traveled the world encouraging countries to isolate Apartheid South Africa. This isolation together with our on-the-ground struggle contributed to our liberation. Indeed, we have a good story to tell, locally and internationally, let a part of the telling be the lending of our active solidarity to the people of Palestine who stood by us during our struggle.

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