South Africa stands in solidarity with Palestine, Western Sahara

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Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) Minister Dr Naledi Pandor again expressed solidarity with the people of Palestine and Western Sahara in their quest to achieve fundamental freedom, equality, justice and dignity.

“It is necessary for the international community to uphold international legality in ensuring the collective decisions of the UN and the AU to end illegal occupations in Palestine and Western Sahara are respected and fully adhered to,” Pandor said on Thursday.

Any decisions contrary to these multilateral collective decisions must be discouraged and unequivocally disregarded she added.

“The inalienable right of people to be free from all forms of colonialist rule and oppression cannot be traded away.”

The Minister was speaking during a virtual event commemorating the UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, also known as the Declaration on Decolonisation, adopted through UN General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV).

According to the Minister, the Declaration is significant for countries across the world which achieved independence from colonial rule and occupation.

DIRCO said more than 80 former colonies comprising about 750 million people gained independence to date.

While the Minister said this was a magnificent milestone, South Africa is reminded there are currently 17 territories whose people have not yet attained a full measure of self-government.

She said these regions are on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories and those on the agenda of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence of Colonial Countries and Peoples.

“Noting there remain people who still await the right to exercise self-determination, it is incumbent on the international community to ensure the process of decolonisation is completed in order for all countries to be duly liberated and enjoy independence and freedom,” she said.

“Completing this mandate will require continuing dialogue between administering powers and people in the concerned territories, in accordance with the relevant UN decisions on decolonisation.”

According to Pandor, South Africa remains committed to the two-State solution for Palestine and Israel based on international recognition and independence of the State of Palestine premised on the 4 June 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

“South Africa reiterates the need for holding a referendum for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in line with the decisions of both the UN and the AU.”

The settlement plan, approved by the Security Council, provides for a transitional period for a referendum in which the people of Western Sahara would choose between independence or integration with Morocco.