- CAPE TOWN (Reuters)
- Israel is repeating the mistakes of South Africa's apartheid rulers in
its effort to crush a popular rebellion, South African President Thabo
Mbeki said on Friday.
- Mbeki said in a weekly online letter that Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon was wrong to demand an end to Palestinian violence as a pre-condition
- South Africa has consistently criticized Israel's handling
of the crisis, but Mbeki said he was equally concerned about the rights
and the losses of both Israelis and Palestinians.
- "When we call for respect for life, we must state
firmly that we refer both to Israelis and Palestinians," he said.
- "However...we must proceed from the concrete reality
that the Israelis have their own independent state and homeland. The Palestinians
- Israeli forces launched a military offensive in the West
Bank two weeks ago to try to crush Palestinian militants blamed for a series
of suicide attacks that killed dozens of Israelis.
- Mbeki said South Africa's own experience, in which tens
of thousands of people died in the uprising against white minority rule,
had shown that an oppressed people fought because they had "nothing
to lose but their servitude", not because they were told to fight.
- South Africa's white rulers, who negotiated themselves
out of power between 1990 and 1994, fought for 30 years to maintain their
exclusive hold on power.
- Police and government agents shot protesters, assassinated
civic leaders, jailed activists and banished high-profile opponents in
a bid to break the uprising that eventually forced them into talks.
- "The rulers of Israel are repeating the costly mistakes
made by the captains of apartheid in our country," Mbeki said.
- "Everything that has happened in the Palestinian
territories in almost two years says, in action, that the Palestinians
and especially the youth are ready to march against tanks and armoured
cars because it is no longer possible for them to live as a dispossessed
- "The attempt to search and destroy so-called agitators
and terrorists in their midst, in the belief that these are the instigators
of the rebellion, without whom the rebellion would cease, is to live in
worse than a fool's paradise," he said.
- Welcoming U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's peace
mission, he said "The leaders of both the people of Israel and Palestine
have a common responsibility to take advantage of the presence of the Secretary
of State to break the chain of violence."
- Powell, on a Middle East peace mission, is due to hold
talks with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat on Saturday at
Arafat's offices in Ramallah, besieged by Israeli forces.