The relations between Palestine and South Africa have a longstanding history of solidarity and mutual support rooted in our shared struggles against oppression and injustice.
1. Historical Ties:
During the era of apartheid in South Africa, Palestinians expressed solidarity with the anti-apartheid movement and provided support to the South African people in their quest for freedom and equality. Similarly, South Africans were inspired by the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and saw it as a parallel struggle against oppression.
2. ANC and PLO Cooperation:
The African National Congress (ANC), the leading anti-apartheid organization in South Africa, established close ties with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The ANC viewed the Palestinian struggle as akin to their own fight against apartheid and sought to strengthen cooperation and exchange experiences with the PLO.
3. Diplomatic Relations:
Following South Africa's transition to democracy and its first non-racial elections in 1994, formal diplomatic relations were established between South Africa and the State of Palestine on February 15, 1995. This step solidified the commitment of both nations to work together and support each other's aspirations for self-determination, justice, and human rights.
4. Shared Criticism of Israeli Policies:
Prominent South African figures, including Desmond Tutu and Ronnie Kasrils, have drawn parallels between apartheid-era South Africa and the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government. They have criticized Israel's policies, calling for an end to the occupation and the realization of Palestinian rights. This shared criticism has further deepened the solidarity between Palestine and South Africa.
5. Civil Society Support:
Civil society organizations in South Africa, including trade unions such as the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), have actively supported the Palestinian cause. They have denounced Israel's actions and called for boycotts and divestment campaigns against companies and institutions supporting the Israeli occupation.
Throughout the years, Palestine and South Africa have continued to strengthen their bilateral relations through political, diplomatic, economic, cultural, and humanitarian cooperation. Our shared history of struggle against oppression has formed the basis for this enduring solidarity and commitment to supporting each other's aspirations for freedom, justice, and self-determination.