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US consulate marks Mandela passing with pro-Palestine statement

Dec. 7, 2013 5:51 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 9, 2013 10:20 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The American consulate in Jerusalem on Friday posted a photograph on its official Facebook page marking the passing of late South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela by highlighting his pro-Palestinian political activism.

The post showed Mandela prior to his death alongside a quote in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

"But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians," reads the quotation on the page of the diplomatic mission that serves Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

The United States featured Nelson Mandela on a terror watch list until 2008.

The US listed Mandela's African National Congress as a "terror group" in the 1980s, when it was still a strong supporter of the South African apartheid regime that Mandela spent his life fighting.

US President Ronald Reagan said in a 1981 CBS News interview, "Can we abandon a country that has stood by us in every war we've fought, a country that is strategically essential to the free world?" and refused to impose sanctions on the apartheid regime.

In a Jan. 2003 interview, Mandela said "if there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don't care," referencing the impending invasion of Iraq by US forces.

Nelson Mandela was a frequent advocate of the Palestinian cause. Israel, meanwhile, was a close military and economic ally of the apartheid regime from 1973 onwards.

Mandela called Israel a "terror state" in Oct. 1990 during a visit to Australia, lambasting Israel for "slaughtering defenseless and innocent Arabs in the occupied territories."

"We don't regard that as acceptable," he continued.

In an interview in June 1990 with ABC News, meanwhile, Mandela said "We identify with the PLO because, just like ourselves, they are fighting for the right of self-determination. ... To think that, because Arafat is conducting a struggle against Israel that we must therefore condemn him, we can't do it. It is just not possible."

The United States gives more than $3 billion in military and economic aid to Israel every year, and is one of the country's closest supporters.

On Friday, Palestinians commemorated Mandela's passing in protested in demonstrations across the West Bank, which Israeli forces dispersed. Dozens of Palestinians were injured as Israeli forces opened fire with tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

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