Two Former Israeli Ambassadors to South Africa Differ on Peres-biya Statement Condemning Apartheid

Israel’s condemnation of South African apartheid, as expressed in the joint communique last week of Premier Shimon Peres and Cameroon President Paul Biya, received conflicting appraisals from two former Israeli Ambassadors to South Africa.

In an interview with the newspaper Yediot Achronot, Eliahu Lankin, the previous Ambassador, asked why Israel should be the first Western nation to condemn South Africa. “Has the Western World changed anything in its treatment of that country?” he said. “Has any other country severed relations with South Africa?”

Lankin recalled that the same African countries that demand Israel take a tougher stand toward South Africa gave in to Arab pressure when they severed ties with Israel in 1973. “Of course we should be glad to resume our ties” with Africa, he said, “but we should not apologize for anything.” Although Israel opposes apartheid, said Lankin, one should not add more fuel to the animosity toward South Africa.

On the other hand, Michael Michaely, another former Israeli Ambassador to South Africa and later to Zaire, said that Black Africa appreciates a “proud Jewish stand which rejects any form of racism.” He said Israel would have taken a tougher stand against apartheid were it not for the large Jewish community in South Africa.

PROBLEM OF EL AL FLIGHTS

Israel’s relations with South Africa were discussed last week at a top level meeting called by David Kimche, Director General of the Foreign Ministry, the newspaper Haaretz reported last Thursday.

Dr. Nimrod Novick, political advisor to Peres, reportedly told the forum that Peres decided that Israel would act toward South Africa according to the standards adopted by the U.S and other Western countries.

The participants in the session discussed a threat by a number of African countries to ban El Al planes from passing over them en route to South Africa. This problem would reportedly become even more complicated once South Africa Airlines stops flights to Israel (because of economic reasons), and all Israel-South Africa flights are therefore made by EI AI.

It is reportedly feared in Jerusalem that Kenya will ban the takeoff of Israeli planes from Nairobi, where they usually fuel en route to South Africa. Another reason for concern is proposals in the U.S. to ban landings of flights coming from South Africa. (See related story.)

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