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ANC still supports two states… for now

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The visit of Hamas to South Africa in October to meet the ANC top brass, continues to have repercussions. The latest episode played out on the pages of last week’s Sunday Times. South Africa’s most widely-read weekly flip-flopped, deciding to run a paid advert exposing Hamas’ jihadist outlook and methods, that it had pulled at the last minute the previous week. SEE LINK TO RELATED STORY.
by STEVEN GRUZD | Nov 11, 2015


The debate deepened, as the newspaper also ran opposing opinion pieces on the Hamas visit by ANC National Spokesman Zizi Kodwa and SA Zionist Federation Chairman Ben Swartz.

So, has the ANC shifted official policy away from a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, to support Hamas’s desire for a unitary state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River?

Kodwa’s opinion piece was emotive and vitriolic. He wrote that party-to-party relations [with Hamas] were “much needed and long overdue” and said Hamas’s visit “reflects our commitment to work with all Palestinian movements in their struggle against Israeli apartheid and their imperialist supporters”.

He said that Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal had consistently spoken of his “vision of a non-sectarian Israel-Palestine, incorporating all peoples of that land: Christians, Muslims, Jews and others”. Kodwa decried what he called a “’Bantustan’ two-state solution” with non-contiguous territories and a Palestinian government unable to control its own water, agriculture and inter-state trade.

Kodwa said Hamas was being demonised and they were falsely labelled as terrorists, just as the ANC had once been. A just peace would be elusive while “the Israeli government and its apologists ignore and malign Hamas and other Palestinian political movements”.

Yet, despite Kodwa’s strong support for the visit and the ANC’s reasons for it, he told the SA Jewish Report this week that the ANC was not abandoning support for a two-state solution. “We are not moving away from that. We’re committed to it. But we don’t want a Bantustan. It must be a real state, like all other states.

“There must be two states, side by side, living in peace,” he added. “Two states is the bottom line. The Palestinian factions need to accept that, just as the government of Israel equally has to accept that.”

But observers have their doubts. Political commentator Ibrahim Fakir said that while there were some in the ANC that still endorsed a two-state solution, many rejected it as unviable in terms of geography, sovereignty and equal rights.

He added that Israel would have to talk to Hamas sooner or later. “Pro-Palestinian advocacy is definitely making inroads in a divided ANC. The ANC is also playing the classic game of taking more radical positions as a party and more moderate ones as government,” Fakir said.

Howard Sackstein, an international relations graduate, characterised this dynamic as “the ANC’s bipolar foreign policy”. He perceives a major shift in ANC politics away from Fatah, the ruling party in the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

“The ANC doesn’t seem to care that it is dealing with a racist, genocidal, fundamentalist party in Hamas. The ANC has a history of aligning with oppressive regimes, many of which were overthrown by their own people in the Arab Spring.” He also said the ANC was “completely irrelevant” to forging peace in the Middle East.

It remains to be seen how long the government can plausibly continue to claim support for a two-state solution, when the ruling party’s rhetoric and actions suggest the complete opposite.



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