The first step to solving anything in life is to have the correct and relevant information. That is just basic logic, no rocket science involved. Back in my days at varsity, I learnt about the rule of ‘IPAC’: Issue, Principle, Application and Conclusion. This was a simple way of answering legal questions. The first step is to identify the issue that you are confronted with, and understand it; come up with a relevant and applicable principle; apply your legal arguments: and then conclude. This is the approach we need to take when we are dealing with the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The main problem facing most of the so-called activists or quasi-leaders of our country, is that they identify the wrong issues when it comes to the Israel-Palestine conflict. As a result, this leads them to not having the right suggestions or solutions for the conflict. This is reflected by the recent views shared by Ambassador Jerry Matjila on his security council video at a teleconference open debate on the situation in the Middle East. His statement shows laziness to research, and exposes the fact that he is captured by a particular group of the anti-Israel cabal.

The Ambassador does not fully acknowledge and appreciate the newly established diplomatic relationships between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan. Just to educate him and his followers a bit: diplomatic relations are formed for many reasons, one of those reasons is for the prevention of war and violence. Furthermore, countries can be in harmony and in pursuit of common interests, which would be beneficial for their regions. Amongst other things, countries can establish affiliations and have an expansion of political, economic and cultural ties between them.

Demonising Israel while Embracing Hamas

The anti-Israel brigade will take every opportunity presented to them to demonise and chastise Israel. The ambassador is doing the same thing in his statement. He is just focusing on spreading negative publicity about Israel. This is the kind of rhetoric that got us to where we are today. There are no solutions regarding the Middle East conflict because of leaders like Ambassador Matjila. They could be coming up with solutions, instead, they are failing to apply their minds reasonably and fairly. The blame is always put on Israel, and terrorist organisations like Hamas are given credit despite their gross human rights violations they practice in Gaza. The country was in shock when the South African Ruling party ‘ANC’ met and welcomed Hamas to our lands. They could meet with ISIS any time now. We shall suffer based on their lack of knowledge. 

African Issues Ignored; Relationships with Human Rights Abusers Flourish

As a side note, one day, we need to have a discussion as to why we prioritise Middle East issues so much more, whilst there are a number of serious issues on our very own continent affecting our fellow Africans. South Africa is not doing anything about Zimbabwe, while our neighbours are treated like slaves and subjected to brutality. The government of Nigeria continues to violate human rights, and we are keeping quiet. Slavery is still continuing in Libya, however we do not see any energy channeled to addressing that. 

Leaving the continent and giving a focus to Asia. South Africa still endures diplomatic relations with China while Xi Jinping’s government is continuing with human rights violations in Tibet. 

We, as a country, need to talk about the double standards from our government. We must talk about the relationships our government has with countries such as Russia, Venezuela and Iran, who are well-known for human rights violations.

Peace Talks Have Always Failed

There have been a number of talks and conferences involving Israel and Palestine. All these have failed due to a lack of leadership from the Palestinian side. Israel has come to the table every time, willing to compromise. However, the Palestinian leaders would always reject. This is because of the selfishness we are faced with. Leaders thinking of themselves and feeding their egos, and forgetting what the people on the ground really want. An example of this is summarised by what happened at the Camp David Summit in 2000. 

In 2000, US President Bill Clinton convened a peace summit between Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat, and Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak. In May of that year, according to Nathan Thrall, Israel had offered Palestinians 66% of the West Bank, with 17% annexed to Israel, and a further 17% not annexed, but under Israeli control, and no compensating swap of Israeli territory. The Israeli Prime Minister offered the Palestinian leader between 91% and 95% of the West Bank and the entire Gaza Strip, if 69 Jewish settlements (which comprise 85% of the West Bank’s Jewish dwellers) be ceded to Israel. East Jerusalem would have fallen for the most part under Israeli sovereignty, with the exception of most suburbs with heavy non-Jewish populations surrounded by areas annexed to Israel. The issue of the Palestinian right-of-return would be solved through significant monetary reparations.

Arafat rejected this offer and did not propose a counter-offer. No tenable solution was crafted, which would satisfy both Israeli and Palestinian demands, even under intense U.S. pressure. Clinton blamed Arafat for the failure of the Camp David Summit.

Now the question remains; would we ever solve this issue if we do not have responsible leadership in Palestine?

I believe the international community can play an important part as mediators. Countries like South Africa should be playing a positive and constructive role in this conflict. However, we are failing, since we have leaders like Ambassador Matjila, whose views are sponsored, and he is conveniently not suggesting any tangible and valuable solutions.

It is every leader’s responsibility to come up with solutions which are both practical and reasonable, whenever they are confronted with issues or challenges. A leader that creates divisions amongst their followers, is a cancer to democracy and society as a whole. It is paramount to the global community to identify the right issues in the Middle East conflict, then come up with applicable solutions that will benefit all the people on the ground.

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Klaas Mokgomole

Mr Klaas Mokgomole is a Wits Law Graduate and Africans for Peace Head Coordinator.

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