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Pandor denies Ramaphosa met with Hamas leader

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Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor has denied that President Cyril Ramaphosa met with the leader of Hamas.

Pandor said she had a telephone with Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, last year after she received a request to call Haniyeh to discuss humanitarian aid to Palestine.

Gaza has been under siege from the Israeli Defence Forces since October last year.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given Hamas two weeks to release all hostages, and if it does not do so, Israel will expand its military operation in Rafah.

There were reportedly 1.4 million people sheltering in Rafah.

South Africa won its case in the International Court of Justice where it sought provisional measures for Israel to stop its attacks on Gaza.

But South Africa has said Israel has not implemented the provisional measures.

Pandor said in a written parliamentary reply to a question from the Democratic Alliance (DA) that Ramaphosa did not meet with the leader of Hamas.

She said she only got in touch with Haniyeh after she was asked to contact him over the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

“The President did not meet with or had a telephone discussion with Mr Ismail Haniyeh and/or any other members of the Harakat al- Muqawama al-Islamiya (Hamas) in 2022, 2023 and during the period January 1, 2024 up to the latest specified date,” said Pandor in a written reply to a parliamentary question from DA MP Mike Bond.

“Regarding contact with any member of Cabinet, it should be recalled that Dirco (Department of International Relations and Cooperation) issued a media statement on October 17, 2023, confirming that the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr GNM Pandor, received a request to call the Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to discuss getting humanitarian aid to Palestine.

“During the call, and In line with the government’s position, Minister Pandor reiterated South Africa’s solidarity and support for the people of Palestine and expressed sadness and regret for the loss of innocent lives of both Palestinians and Israelis. The statement further indicated that Pandor and the Hamas leader discussed how to get the provisional supply of necessary humanitarian aid to Gaza and other parts of the Palestinian territories.”

South Africa has been calling for a two-state to end the conflict in Palestine.

When the conflict began last year, Ramaphosa attended the Gaza peace summit that was hosted by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo.

He later convened an emergency BRICS summit, which was attended by all leaders of the bloc.

They called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

More than 29,000 people have been killed in the last four months.

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