Mandela Sees no Need to Get Involved in Middle East Talks
South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela said Friday he saw no need to get involved as a mediator in Middle East peace talks, but accused major powers of being more concerned with seeking accolades than results.
"Some parties have asked me to mediate," Mandela told journalists at his residence in Johannesburg.
"I don't think that there is any necessity for me to do so. Firstly I am busy with Burundi and of course I'm not young and I need to sit down with my grandchildren and rest a bit," the 82 year-old statesman added.
Mandela accused the major powers, including the United States, Britain, France and Russia, of being more concerned with accolades than results.
"None of these ... powers are really interested in peace, what they are really interested in is who is going to have the honor of having brought about peace," he said.
"I think if these countries could come together, then there would be no need for a third party to negotiate," he said.
Earlier this month, South African state television (SABC) said Mandela was in contact with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Mandela told SABC that the belligerents needed to follow a three-point peace plan for the Middle East which he produced in October last year after visiting the region.
Under the plan, Israel would withdraw from Arab land it has occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War, Arab states would recognize Israel's sovereignty, and an international commission would be set up to resolve questions such as the status of Jerusalem and the future of Jewish settlers on the West Bank.
A senior foreign ministry official said last month that Mandela, a respected negotiator, would contribute to efforts to find peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, after discussions with President Thabo Mbeki.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, on a visit to South Africa in August, urged Mandela, who was president from 1994 to 1999, to act as a mediator in the conflict.
The South African government has condemned what it called Israel's excessive and disproportionate use of force against Palestinians in recent clashes.
The resurgence of the conflict resulted in several heated pro-Palestinian demonstrations in South Africa, at which protesters burned US and Israeli flags, made anti-Semitic statements and, on one occasion, stoned the US-based fast-food franchise McDonald's in Cape Town – JOHANNESBURG (AFP)
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