International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, has called on the United Nations (UN) and the Gulf Council to be more resolute in pursuing freedom for the people of Palestine.
The Minister said this when she tabled the department’s budget vote during a mini plenary of the National Assembly on Thursday.
This comes after tensions arose when Israeli authorities embarked on violent removals of Palestinians from their homes, leaving many displaced and stripped of their human rights and dignity.
“The recent vicious attacks by Israel on Palestinian people and the forced removal of Palestinians from their homes is clear evidence of the absence of peace and security for millions worldwide.
“Sadly, we all watched as Palestine suffered more and more brutally. Greater effort must be exerted to achieve peace in the Middle East. Powerful nations must accept that we all depend on each other and even the most powerful will not achieve peace and security through unilateral actions and neglect of the poor, the oppressed and marginalised.
“We call on the UN and the Gulf Council to be more resolute in pursuing freedom for the people of Palestine,” she said.
In her address to the mini plenary, Pandor said the South African government is pleased to be serving in the UN Peacebuilding Commission for 2021-2022, as this will contribute towards the maintenance of international peace and security just as South Africa did during its term on the UN Security Council.
She said peace and security are extremely fragile or absent in many parts of the globe.
SA in a process to shut down 10 foreign missions
Pandor said, meanwhile, that SA is in a process of shutting down 10 missions abroad.
“The budget cuts I referred to earlier resulted in changes in our operations. This and the continued economic impact of COVID-19 have led us to review South Africa’s diplomatic footprint globally.”
In an effort to reduce costs while “ensuring a presence throughout the world, we are in the process of closing 10 of our 122 Missions during the course of 2021.”
“The missions in closest geographic proximity will provide diplomatic and consular services to countries that no longer host our missions. We plan to utilise improved information technology services to ensure efficient consular support to our citizens in these countries. We also intend to appoint honorary consuls to ensure we continue to have a presence and that we uphold established relations.
“I have been most grateful for the understanding shown by my colleagues in all these regrettable actions,” said the Minister.