Nelson Mandela and Yaseer Arafat (Photo: AP)
          Ramallah, 4 Safar 1435/6 December 2013 (MINA) –  Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas paid tribute on Friday (6/12) to Nelson Mandela’s commitment to his people’s cause as he mourned the South African liberation icon.

         “This is a great loss for all the peoples of the world, and for Palestine,” Abbas said, hailing a “symbol of freedom from colonialism and occupation,” quoted by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

        Mandela, who first visited Palestine in 1999, was an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause and a champion for Middle East peace as his famous statement emerged worldwide saying: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

        Abbas said, “The Palestinian people will never forget his historic statement that the South African revolution will not have achieved its goals as long as the Palestinians are not free.”

         He described Mandela as the “most courageous and important of those who supported us”.

         Many Palestinians have taken inspiration from Mandela’s successful struggle against apartheid in their decades-long struggle to end Israeli occupation and settlement of the West Bank. “The name Mandela will stay forever with Palestine and with all Palestinians,” Abbas said. 

        The former South Africans President died in his Johannesburg home last night at 8.50 pm in his  95 years old.  World leaders past and present have paid tribute to the anti-apartheid icon who had been ill with a lung infection for a prolonged period before he died peacefully that night.

         As dawn broke in South Africa and commuters headed to work, many expressed shock at the passing of a man who was a global symbol of reconciliation and peaceful co-existence. Some feared his death could leave their country vulnerable again to racial and social tensions that he did so much to pacify, IrishNews reported.

        At the  International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in 1997 Mandela once said the temptation in our situation is to speak in muffled tones about an issue such as the right of the people of Palestine to a state of their own. We can easily be enticed to read reconciliation and fairness as meaning parity between justice and injustice. Having achieved our own freedom, we can fall into the trap of washing our hands of difficulties that others faces.

       “Yet we would be less than human if we did so,” he stressed.

        It behoves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice, he added.(T/P03/E1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

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