South Africa president tells people to not visit Israel
09 Jan 2017 - 11:36
JOHANNESBURG: President Jacob Zuma has urged South Africans to not visit Israel unless it is related to "fostering peace" in the region.
Addressing thousands of supporters during the 105th birth anniversary of his ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the capital Johannesburg on Sunday, Zuma said: "The people of Palestine continue to suffer in their rightful quest for self determination."
Zuma, who is also the ANC president, said his party had pledged its "ongoing solidarity and support for the just cause of the Palestinian people."
He said: "We firmly discourage travel to Israel for causes not related to fostering peace."
The South African leader also called for unity among Palestinian factions and said his party supported the UN Security Council resolution that blamed Israel for its settlement policies.
South African students, business people and officials who previously visited Israel have been criticized for their actions.
Many South Africans, including the ruling ANC have publicly expressed support for the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.
Most South Africans believe what is happening to Palestinians is similar to what happened to them during the decades of apartheid era that ended in 1994.
The president also called on the U.S. to return Guantanamo Bay to Cuba and lift the economic embargo against the country, saying the ANC "continues to stand with the people of Cuba".
The late Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, had supported South Africa’s struggle against the white minority rule which oppressed blacks for several decades.
Zuma also said the ANC was committed to African unity and the achievement of a prosperous Africa.
The president also called on the international community to help the people of Syria find a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict.