‘Zim, Palestine relations to assume a new level’

Source: ‘Zim, Palestine relations to assume a new level’ | Sunday Mail (Top Stories)

Victoria Ruzvidzo

The State of Palestine’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Tamer Almassri has described President Mnangagwa as a great leader of Africa, stressing that relations between the two countries were set to assume a new level going forward.

At a sit-down last Tuesday, the ambassador expressed great passion for Zimbabwe and stressed that he was on a mission to enhance cooperation between the two countries which would not be confined to just politics, but also transcend the two countries’ socio-economic spheres.

He began discussions with this paper by putting the record straight.

“I am here to represent Palestine and at the same I will represent Zimbabwe to the people of Palestine. Our relations are historical and our friendship began a long time ago. This is not just a country-to-country mission, but I am also representing the Palestinian cause.

“If anything, I would feel honoured if you called me Comrade instead of Your Excellency,” he said with a chuckle.

Ambassador Almassri has been in the country for two months and could not hide his pleasure of meeting President Mnangagwa.

“When I met President Mnangagwa I felt I was talking to a great leader of Africa. This man knows what solidarity means, he is a man of principles and is a great man who leads this country very well,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s successful vaccine procurement and administration programme signified the President’s leadership acumen, he said.

“Vaccination here is free and easy and available to everybody. If you want to go today (to be vaccinated), you can or if you want to go tomorrow you can. In Europe you wait for two weeks or one month.”

Relations between Zimbabwe and Palestine date back to the early stages of the Palestinian revolution and this country’s liberation struggle.

Ambassador Almassri said there was great scope in enhancing the relations, particularly at a time when Palestine was fighting apartheid and what he termed the invasion of its territory by Israel.

“I want to assure you that in Palestine people are proud of our relations with African countries, especially Zimbabwe. Our relations did not start after Independence no. We were together fighting and we were together struggling and we cannot forget our great freedom fighters who created the basis of this relationship.

“We have many things to do together and I think with the tolerance of Zimbabwe and the goodwill of its leadership and rich history of the country, Palestine can count on Zimbabwe,” he said.

On the economic front, Ambassador Almassri said the embassy was working on action plan of a common council of Palestine and Zimbabwean businessmen. The embassy was actively pursuing opportunities for Palestinians in the Diaspora to invest in Zimbabwe.

As an expression of his love for Zimbabwe, Ambassador Almassri has enrolled into a course in which he is learning to speak Shona.  He said so far he has visited Mbare, Lusaka in Highfield and Ruwa.

“We will strengthen the solidarity ties between our two countries. I will visit universities and schools and I will visit everywhere. I am here as a comrade.

He spoke passionately about the situation in his country and was hugely opposed to Israel’s inclusion as an African Union observer member.

“I urge everybody to refuse Israel’s membership in the AU because it would be a scandal to give apartheid states like Israel a membership in AU. Its charter refuses the occupation and the oppression of other people. It would be a paradox for AU and I am sure our comrades in Africa will refuse that.”

At its summit held in Malawi last week, Sadc objected to the unilateral decision taken by the AU Commission to grant Israel observer status.

“The resolute objection, together with other States’ objections, will serve as a reminder that colonial occupation, racism, and endemic violations of international law, which continue to shackle Palestine, must not be rewarded or appeased,” said a statement from the Embassy.