JERUSALEM (Apr. 8)
The Foreign Ministry appears to have foiled a scheduled visit by a delegation of Knesset members and two other Israeli political figures to the opening of the Parliament in Ciskei, “a homeland” established for Blacks by the South African government but not officially recognized by Israel.
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir in the past has ordered Israeli officials not to meet with visiting Ciskeians, despite the relatively large number of Israelis who have business interests there. There is concern here that ties with that country — which is not recognized by the majority of the world’s nations — would jeopardize efforts to improve relations with Black Africa.
Most members of the delegation have already announced they would cancel their trip. Likud MK Micha Reiser said he was sorry to give up the trip but was convinced by the arguments of the Foreign Ministry that the visit would be contrary to the interests of the state.
However, Likud MK and Mayor of Afula Ovadia Elli said that at this stage he intended to go to Ciskei since there was a great measure of hypocrisy regarding relations with South Africa, since Israel was maintaining strong ties with the Pretoria government.
Beside Reiser and Elli, other members of the would be delegation are Alignment MKs Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Yitzhak Peretz, Eli Kulas, David Magen, Haim Kaufman, Amal Nasser A-Din, Yehoshua Matza, of Likud as well as Yigel Griffel, the Deputy Mayor of Tel Aviv (Herut) and Micha Yinon, chairman of the Broadcasting Authority (NRP), and NRP MK Avner Shaki.
According to one estimate, there are some II Israeli companies involved in business there. Yediot Achronot reported Sunday that these include the Gibor Textile Company, the computer company Degem Systems, and the Fashion company Indian Head, which is soon to open a plant there.