‘Protest at UAE Embassy: ‘We won’t allow hired thugs to block us’ – Desai

The signing of a ‘disgraceful’ deal between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel has raised the ire of Palestinian activists. A protest in Pretoria went ahead despite attempts to put it down, writes an Al Qalam Reporter.

Protesters who gathered outside the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Pretoria on Wednesday following the signing of the “Abraham Accords” – that disenfranchises Palestinian rights – were initially prevented from demonstrating but it went ahead despite “the hired thugs” that were used to block them.

The protesters included members of #Africa4Palestine, the SA Communist party, YCL, ANC, ANC YL, ANC WL and trade unions, but when they got there, the group  faced a wall of heavily-armed security personnel, privately hired by the UAE Embassy.

The UAE “hired thugs” initially tried to prevent the protest from taking place at the entrance of the Embassy. However, protestors were undeterred and the loud picket proceeded under the watchful eye of the South African Police Services.

An angry Muhammed Desai, head of the #Africa4Palestine organization which organized the protest told Al Qalam: “We were not going to be told by the Emirati hired thugs where we can protest or not. This is not Dubai or the Emirates, in our country the democratic voice of our peoples is respected”.

The protest, which had to be limited due to current Covid-19 restrictions in South Africa, followed this week’s signing of the “Abraham Accords” at the White House by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani.

#Africa4Palestine’s Tisetso Magama explained that: “The “Abraham Accords” sees the UAE and Bahrain departing from their decades-long commitment of boycotting and not having relations with Israel until the regime ends its unlawful occupation of Palestine. The move by the UAE and Bahrain to sign this agreement is rightly being called a ‘stab in the back of the oppressed Palestinians’ as it effectively allows Israel to continue with its unlawful occupation of Palestinian lands while maintaining relations and facing no consequences for its illegal actions.”

The picket in Pretoria had joined other similar protests that took place across the world in condemnation of the “Abraham Accords” which is being labelled an “insult” to the oppressed Palestinians.

Desai told Al Qalam: “Essentially the position adopted by the UAE and Bahrain to cosy up to the Israeli regime utterly disregards human rights and international law – indeed, it is a shameful betrayal of the Palestinian people in their quest for freedom, justice and peace.”

He said at a time when the churches are adopting boycotts of Israel, governments were limiting trade with Israeli settlements, companies are ending Israeli contracts, students are promoting an academic boycott, “it is simply embarrassing that the UAE and Bahrain are choosing to side with the oppressor.”

The move by the UAE and Bahrain to sign this agreement is rightly being called a “stab in the back of the oppressed Palestinians” as it effectively allows Israel to continue with its unlawful occupation of Palestinian lands while maintaining relations and facing no consequences for its illegal actions.

“The human rights organization #Africa4Palestine joins the Palestinian government, Palestinian political parties (including the PLO, Fateh, Hamas, PFLP, DFLP and others) as well as all peace loving people in Palestine and the world over in condemning the “Abraham Accord” as an insult to the oppressed Palestinians and an utter disregard for human rights and international law – indeed a shameful betrayal of the Palestinian people in their quest for freedom, justice and peace.

“We join the South African government in not approving this agreement. We call for stringent global action to be taken against Israel and its enablers for Israel violations of international law. The UAE should be on the right side of history with those countries that are holding Israel accountable for its human rights abuses instead of rewarding the Israeli regime,” Desai added.

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