Botswana is not aware of Israel’s bid for observer status in the African Union (AU) neither has the country been official approached by Israel to support this bid.This was confirmed by Tebelelo Alfred Boang, the Director in the Department of Public Relations, Reaserch and Informantion in the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation in an interview ahead of last week’s commemoration of International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Peoples.
Boang reiterated that Botswana, just like many other countries, maintains that Israel’s occupation of Palestine, including settlement activity undermines the concerted efforts by the international community to find a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Accordingly, he said Botswana continues to join many other countries in calling on Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately end its occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to reaffirm support for the Two States solution, with Palestine and Israel living side by side in peace and harmony.
To demonstrate her support and solidarity with the Palestinian peoples, Botswana established diplomatic relations with the Tstae of Palestine on 08 March 2017. Palestine is alao an observer member in the African Union, a position she attained in 2013 during the 21st summit of the African Union. Israel lost the observer status in 2002 with the dissolution of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and in recent times has been pursuing individual member states of the African Union – the latest being Ghanaian Government - to supporrt her bid for an observer status in the 54 member state bloc.
In her statement to observe the International Day of Solidarity with Palestine, Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation Dr. Unity Dow emphasised that Botswana “remains resolute” in its support for the Palestinian people in their quest for inalienable right to self determination and the pursuit of freedom, peace, dignity, and stable existence.
Minister Dow said that whie Botswana welcomes efforts by the “Middle East Quartet” to finding a lasting solution to the Middle East situation, the country regrets that today in the year 2018, which marks the 51st Anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, the situation in Palestine remains ëxtremely dire and fragile, marked by an ongoing conflict, violence and deteriorating humanitarian and economic conditions”.
“Botswana also remains steadfast in its support for a fair, durable and early resolution of the conflict, through the resumption of negotiations aimed at reaching a Two State solution, with Israel and Palestine State living side by side in peace and harmony,” minister Dow said.