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Abbas: Mandela 'a symbol of liberation from colonialism, occupation'

Dec. 6, 2013 10:34 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 7, 2013 2:13 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas declared a day of mourning Friday following the death of South African anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela, according to Palestinian media.

Offering condolences to Mandela's family, to the people of South Africa, and to the world at large, Abbas ordered that flags be lowered to half-mast across Palestine, the PA's Wafa News Agency reported.

Mandela was a brave man who supported the Palestinian people, 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," Abbas said.

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.

A leader and a freedom fighter, Mandela was a symbol of liberation from colonialism and occupation for all people, Abbas said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid tribute to Mandela as "a man of vision and a freedom fighter who disavowed violence."

Despite his pacifist instincts, Mandela never renounced violence in the struggle against apartheid and his African National Congress had an active military wing during his long incarceration.

Mandela died late Thursday at the age of 95.

AFP contributed to this report
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