The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol was held in the sunny city of Durban, South Africa.


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Statements and Speeches

Statement by Mr. Mahlatse Mminele, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Africa to the United Nations, at the UN Security Council Open Debate on "The Situation in the Middle East, Including the Palestinian Question"

26 January 2016

Mr President,

We thank the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon, for his briefing as well as for his tireless efforts towards bringing about a resolution to the situation in the Middle East, including on the Question of Palestine .

My delegation associates itself with the statement to be delivered by the distinguished delegate of the Islamic Republic of Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned  Movement.

Mr President,

South Africa has been actively involved in the Middle East in order to contribute to a lasting peace in the region and attaches great importance to this open debate. South Africa is nevertheless concerned that nothing substantive has been achieved to our collective shame-this includes witnessing the suffering of the Palestinian people yet we all agree that the current status quo is not sustainable.

As we have done in the past, today we will again declare our commitment to the two­ state solution and reiterate that an essential part of achieving peace in the entire Middle East is through the establishment of a free and sovereign Palestinian state co-existing side-by-side in peace and security with the State of Israel, based on the 4 June 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. We will agree also that this can only be achieved through genuine substantive negotiations between all the affected parties. However our action, or rather lack of action, will expose our words and commitments as hallow. Because nothing has been done to encourage and move the parties towards restarting the long-stalled negotiations, and to prepare the ground for the difficult way forward on negotiating the final status issues.

Mr President

It should concern us all that whilst we are vacillating, the situation on the ground grows worse by the day through continued acts of violence against Palestinians and Israelis alike, including ongoing settlement activity and the high rate of demolitions of Palestinian structures.

In this context, South Africa deplores the recent announcement by the Government of Israel, declaring 370 acres in the West Bank, South of Jericho, as so-called "State land" and like the UN Secretary-General, we are concerned, that should this decision be implemented, it would constitute the largest land appropriation by Israel in the West Bank since August 2014. These type of actions not only undermine the viability of a two­ state solution, but it also hinders the Palestinian Authority's ability to expand its economic activity, which in turn undermines political stability and security in Palestine, which will eventually impact the security of Israel.

Mr President,

The events in the occupied Palestinian territory over the past months have heightened the urgency to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As you may recall, numerous concerns have been raised regarding the illegal Israeli actions that are aimed at altering the demographic composition and geographical reality of establishing a contiguous state.

Mr President,

The Palestinian people continue to experience injustices, and cases where settlers burn an entire Palestinian family alive are completely unacceptable and demand our condemnation. Acts of violence are also not condonable in whatever form and by whomever. In this context, we appeal to all the parties involved to cease the violence and to assume a peaceful path that ensures that innocent lives are not lost.

My delegation considers the international protection of the Palestinian people essential, as they are a people at the mercy of an occupying power.

Mr President,

In conclusion, South Africa welcomes the announcement by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran has complied with its side of the 2015 accord.

We also express our support for the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, Mr Steffan de Mistura to convene intra-Syrian negotiations on the 29th of January 2016 and it is our hope that this process will lead to a new horizon for the country and bring an end to this terrible conflict.

I thank you.