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Ramaphosa denies SA’s position on Israeli-Palestine conflict could jeopardise relationship with US

Image of Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa

25th March 2024

By: Thabi Shomolekae

Creamer Media Senior Writer

     

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President Cyril Ramaphosa averred on Monday that the suggestion that South Africa’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could lead to a deterioration of its relations with the US is unfounded.  

South Africa brought a case to the International Court of Justice, where it argued that the actions of the Israeli military in Gaza violated international law and included actions that are prohibited under the Genocide Convention, to which South Africa, Israel and many other countries are signatories. 

Ramaphosa wrote in his weekly letter to the nation that South Africa’s application to the court was consistent not only with its obligations as a signatory to the Genocide Convention, but also the call it had always made for an inclusive negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This as US lawmakers are discussing a Bill to review the bilateral relationship between South Africa and the US amid geopolitical differences.

However, Ramaphosa said South Africa’s relationship with the US was characterised by “mutual respect” and a willingness to engage in constructive dialogue even on issues where countries may differ.  
 
“Even on contentious issues – such as the docking of a Russian ship in Simonstown in late 2022, the Russia-Ukraine conflict or the current conflict in Gaza – the South African and US governments have been able to share views in a frank and open manner,” he said.

Ramaphosa highlighted that South Africa had strong economic, political and social ties with the US.

“We remember the support from the American people during our struggle for democracy. Over the last 30 years, we have had, and continue to have, a supportive, mutually beneficial and cooperative relationship between our two countries,” he said.

He explained that South Africa and the US have firm and expanding trade and investment ties, adding that South Africa was home to more than 600 US companies and the US was the second largest destination for South African exports.

Some of the country’s large companies, such as Sasol, had made significant investments in key economic sectors in the US, Ramaphosa pointed out.

An important part of the economic ties between South Africa and the US is the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which grants qualifying African countries duty-free access to the US market for their exports. 

Ramaphosa noted that the recent Agoa Forum, held in South Africa in November last year, confirmed the value of Agoa to Africa’s industrialisation and integration and to the diversification of its economies.

He highlighted that the trade and investment ties that had been developed through Agoa, provide a platform for US investors to participate in the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area. 

“We also welcome US participation in the Just Energy Transition Partnership alongside a growing number of other countries. South Africa has great opportunities for investment in the green economy and for the supply of critical minerals for the global energy transition,” he said.

Ramaphosa explained that there was great potential to further develop South Africa’s relationship with the US and to find ways to work together for a more peaceful, stable and just world”.

He said South Africa will continue to seek firm and friendly relations with other countries “in pursuit of a better world”.

Meanwhile, he highlighted that South Africa has consistently called for the application of international law, condemning the atrocities committed by Hamas against Israeli civilians on 7 October last year and calling for the release of hostages.

He said South Africa will continue to call for an immediate ceasefire, the urgent provision of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza and meaningful negotiations towards a lasting solution.  

Edited by Sashnee Moodley
Senior Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia

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