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African leaders and activists condemn UAE-Israeli deal

Activists and political leaders from across Africa have condemned Thursday’s announcement that Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have reached a deal that will lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The deal was brokered by United States President, Donald Trump. The agreement will see Israel temporarily delay its plans to annex large swathes of the occupied West Bank. Palestinians have called the deal a “treacherous stab in the back” with activists and political leaders in South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and Zimbabwe echoing those sentiments.

The South African government said it was “regrettable” that yet another agreement related to the fate of the Palestinian people was reached without engaging the Palestinians.  According to spokesperson, Clayson Monyela, Israel’s suspension of its annexation plans should not be celebrated as a diplomatic break-through. “Most of the world’s countries have called for a stop to the threats of annexation of the West Bank, as it would have been an act in contravention of international law.  The agreement, however, does not commit Israel to halting of plans to further extend Israeli sovereignty over Palestinian territories and its people. The agreement also does not commit the government of Israel to negotiations guided by the internationally agreed parameters,” Monyela said in a statement released on Friday.

South Africa’s BDS Coalition, which represents several dozen civil society groups working in solidarity with Palestinians to end the Israeli occupation, called the deal “the height of treachery.” “This is extremely dangerous for the Palestinians and the region.  We urge the international community to reject this pact and to stand with the Palestinian people in their struggle for justice and a meaningful peace.”

On Friday, the Africa for Palestine group protested  the deal outside the Israeli embassy in Pretoria.

Veterans of South Africa’s liberation struggle have also slammed the UAE’s decision to establish full diplomatic ties with an occupying power. Ronnie Kasrils, a former commander of the ANC’s armed wing Umkhonto We Sizwe and former Minister for Intelligence Services, said that “African states showed far more backbone, unity and solidarity, in the liberation struggle against South African Apartheid, than has been the case of Arab states and the Arab League, with respect to the sacred Palestinian cause.”

Ghanaian parliamentarian, Ras Mubarak, agreed with Kasrils. “During the South African people’s struggle against apartheid, African states formed the frontline of resistance against Pretoria’s brutal regime. Across the African continent, we cut ties with South Africa and supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against apartheid South Africa.  We stood shoulder to shoulder with our South African brothers and sisters in their fight for freedom. All Arab states must treat the apartheid state of Israel in the same way that African states treated apartheid South Africa. Just as the isolation of South Africa on the African continent was a crucial component in the fight against South African apartheid, so too is the boycott of Israel in the Arab world central in the fight for the liberation of Palestine,” Mubarak told the Afro-Palestine Newswire Service.

Speaking from Nairobi, Kenne Mwikya, spokesperson of the Kenya Palestine Solidarity Movement (KPSM) said: “Real peace will come only after Israel agrees to withdraw from all Arab lands, gives up its expansionist ambitions and its nuclear weapons, and allows for full Palestinian freedom and self-determination in the Palestinian homeland, paving the way for normalization of relations with much if not all of the Arab and Muslim world.”

Robson Musarafu of the Zimbabwe Friends of Palestine Solidarity Association also condemned the Israeli-Emirati deal. “At a time that we in Africa are severely concerned with the prolonged Zionist occupation of the innocent of State of Palestine, the position taken by the United Arab Emirates is a serious negation of our support for a Palestinian State free of occupation by any force.”