Thursday, May 19, 2022

Botswana defends her Israeli ties

The Botswana government is unfazed by criticism emanating from its ties with Israel.

There are calls from some quarters discouraging Botswana from seeking investment from Israel, apparently because the country has a deplorable human rights record, coupled with its illegal occupation of the Palestinian territory.

The government, however, begs to differ.
“While Botswana has diplomatic relations with the State of Israel like most countries in the region and elsewhere, this does not mean that we endorse all Israeli policies. Also, like most nations, Botswana also maintains ties with the Palestinian Authority and has associated itself with relevant United Nations and the African Union resolutions on issues with respect to the Arab/Palestinian- Israeli Dispute over the years,” says the government spokesman, Dr. Jeff Ramsay.

A delegation from Botswana headed by the assistant Minister of Trade and Industry, Maxwell Motowane, visited Israel recently seeking to woo Israeli investors to Botswana.

“The findings of two UN based investigations into Israel’s murderous assault on the people of Gaza in 2008/9 that resulted in the deaths of over 1500 defenseless people, including over 400 children, and the assault earlier this year on the Freedom Flotilla when nine unarmed humanitarian aid workers were murdered as they tried to bring essential supplies to the illegally besieged people of Gaza, found evidence that Israeli forces committed war crimes. That a southern African country, itself a victim of colonialism and apartheid, should seek to bolster ties with the Israeli state, the last remaining example of colonial imperialism and apartheid, reflects very poorly on Botswana,” wrote a reader from Ireland, Sean Clinton, to a local newspaper recently.

The BBC reported on Friday that a group of 26 ex-European Union leaders has urged the union to impose sanctions on Israel for continuing to build settlements on occupied Palestinian territory. According to the BBC, they said Israel “like any other state” should be made to feel “the consequences” and pay a price for breaking international law. The signatories include the former EU foreign affairs chief, Javier Solana.

But in a written response, Solana’s successor, Catherine Ashton, said the bloc’s approach would remain unchanged. An Israeli foreign ministry official said the proposal represented “a giant leap of bad faith.”

The exchange came shortly before the US announced it was abandoning efforts to persuade Israel to renew a partial settlement construction freeze so that direct peace talks with the Palestinian Authority could resume.

The Palestinians suspended talks in September after a 10-month freeze on settlement in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, expired. Israel has occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since 1967, settling close to 500,000 Jews in more than 100 settlements. They are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

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