Dr. Greg Mills, National Director of the South African Institute of International Affairs, says the Middle East crisis has a great deal of relevance to South Africa and the rest of the continent. He says South Africa has Muslim and Jewish populations, while many other African countries have large Muslim populations, such as Nigeria and Sudan.

He says Africa has an interest in the Middle East partly due to its own colonial past and developmental challenges. The crisis does, however, divert attention away from Africa.

He says some African leaders could contribute to the Middle East peace process, such as Nelson Mandela. But he says those leaders are currently busy trying to bring peace in such places as Burundi, Angola and the DRC.

He says the historical experience of Africa, especially South Africa, has lessons to offer to Israel and the Palestinians. Dr. Mills says there?s much more to be gained from ending the fighting than continuing it, a belief which helped South Africa make its transition from apartheid to democracy.

He says the people of Israel and the Palestinians must voice their views for peace and break the cycle of violence. Dr. Mills spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua from his Pretoria office. (Click on the above links to listen to the interview.)