South Africa's Pandor Reveals Reasons Behind October Call to Hamas
18:25 09.11.2023 (Updated: 18:52 09.11.2023)
Since the escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on October 7, South Africa has been trying to help achieve ceasefire and peaceful solution. Naledi Pandor, South Africa's minister of international relations and cooperation, has been an active proponent of such resolutions.
South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor personally phoned Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh last month due to technical obstacles on the Palestinian side, she stated at the nation's parliamentary plenary hearing on Wednesday.
Pandor explained that Hamas asked her to call Haniyeh due to technical problems, as bad connection and other obstacles created by the Israeli blockade of Gaza hindered any possibilities for international calls.
"So, I spoke to that gentleman, Mr. Haniyeh. I did not express any support for the atrocious action that had occurred on the 7th of October, and it is that I have said is totally untrue," said the minister, who noted that Hamas is a government in the Gaza Strip.
She assured South African lawmakers that she did not approve any of the Hamas' atrocities.
Moreover, Pandor emphasized South Africa's role as a country that is actively involved in resolving crises around the world.
"At this time, the most important step that we need to take is to continue our efforts as South Africa to encourage a cessation of hostilities and the opening up of safe corridors for the entry and transport of humanitarian aid. And South Africa continues to lend its support of these efforts," the minister said.
A day earlier, another meeting of the national assembly was held with the participation of Pandor. The minister responded to criticism of the Democratic Alliance party, which said that the minister's conversation with the Palestinian leader destroyed the "remnants of trust" that her department had remained. In response, Pandor argued that calling her "a terrorist friend of Hamas" won't have any effect on her since "it's an absolute untruth."
Then, Pandor reiterated her support for the people of Palestine.
"[...] If we are true to ourselves, if we are true to our history, if we are true to what we've achieved, we will stand up and say what is being done to the people of Palestine is wrong, is intolerable, and we will not pretend to accept it," she stressed.
The minister also drew a parallel between what is happening in the Gaza Strip now and the times of apartheid
in South Africa.
"These actions remind us of our experiences as black South Africans living under apartheid. This is one of the key reasons South Africans, like people in cities all over the world, have taken to the streets to express their anger and concern at what is taking place in Gaza and the West Bank. These demonstrations illustrate the frustration felt the world over that people are being attacked and are losing their lives with little or no action to stop these atrocities," the minister said.
Israel declared war on the Palestinian militant organization Hamas after it attacked the country on October 7. A new round of violence in the long-running conflict between Palestine and Israel has already claimed thousands of lives, including more than 4,000 Palestinian children
, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
South Africa has repeatedly called for negotiations
and a ceasefire, as well as proposed a plan
on how to resolve the conflict.