COSATU extends condolences to the Palestinian people on the passing of “iconic” Dr Saeb Erekat

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is deeply pained by the news of the passing of Dr Saeb Erekat, a veteran peace negotiator and prominent international activist of the Palestinian people, for more than three decades. Erekat died on Tuesday, at the age of 65, weeks after being infected by the coronavirus.

 The American-educated Erekat was involved in nearly every round of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians going back to the landmark Madrid conference in 1991. Over the years, he was a constant media presence. He tirelessly argued for a negotiated two-state solution to the decades-old conflict, defended the Palestinian leadership and blamed Israel — particularly hard-line leader Benjamin Netanyahu — for the failure to reach an agreement.

 The passing of Brother Saeb, a thoughtful leader and a powerful advocate for the freedom of Palestine, presents a great loss for the international Palestine solidarity movement. Dr Erekat was the Secretary-General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), member of the Fatah Central Committee and prominent academic, as well as a close friend of South Africa.

 Throughout the duration of his activism, Saeb was a a keen advocate of building international relations with other struggles across the globe, particularly acknowledging the value of international solidarity in highlighting the plight of the Palestinian people. COSATU continues to back the Palestinian right to self-determination and efforts to reach a viable state for, by and of all the people of Palestine – including the majority who find themselves in the diaspora and refugee camps.

 We reaffirm our support for the call by Palestinian society for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it ends its oppression of the Palestinian people. We reaffirm our support of the basic tenants of the struggle for a free Palestine, which are:

·         Ending the Israeli occupation and colonisation of all Palestinian lands and dismantling the Israeli West Bank barrier;

·         Recognising the fundamental rights of the Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality;

·         Respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties;

·         An immediate end to Israel`s illegal settlements, and blockade on Gaza; and

·         An end to Israel`s discriminatory and racist policies.

 The Palestinian people should continue the struggle for self-determination and against the apartheid Israeli regime.

 We extend our deepest, and most heartfelt condolences to the family of Dr Saeb Erakat, PLO and the people of Palestine, whom he represented so vigorously.

 May his soul rest in peace.

 #FreePalestine #AgainstAnnexation #AgainstNormalisationWithIsrael

 Sonia Mabunda-Kaziboni

International Secretary

COSATU Head Office

Cell: 072 535 1577