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Knesset Approves Eight Widely Differing Motions on South Africa

Eight agenda motions on South Africa were approved by the Knesset Wednesday and passed on to committee for consideration. All condemned apartheid, which is also the government’s official position. But they differed widely between left and right over Israel’s relations with South Africa.

Speaking for the leftist Mapam party, Victor Shem-Tov complained that the government’s reaction to the worsening racial strife in South Africa was too equivocal. The government on Sunday strongly condemned the state of emergency declared by the Pretoria government to prevent the Black community from observing the 10th anniversary of the Soweto riots.

The government also joined the world-wide protest by closing the Israel Embassy in Pretoria for 24 hours Monday. But Shem-Tov argued that “the reaction was too weak . . . as if following the reactions of others.” He maintained that “Israel must express the strongest ‘J’ Accuse’ against the racist government of South Africa.”

COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN ALL PARTS ENCOURAGED

Other left-leaning MKs insisted that only moral values should inform Israel’s position toward South Africa. But Likud MK Michael Eitan accused the left of introducing issues that had nothing to do with the situation in South Africa.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ronni Milo of Likud, who responded to the motions for the government, said relations between Israel and South Africa are based on the assumption that the citizens of South Africa must settle their problems among themselves.

“On the basis of that assumption, we encourage communications between all parts of the population in South Africa, while at the same time we strongly demand the immediate and total abolition of all racist laws,” Milo said.

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