P.A. South Africa envoy blames Hamas

CAPE TOWN (JTA) — The Palestinian ambassador to South Africa told parliament that Hamas was mostly to blame for the Gaza Strip war.

Ali Halimeh told the parliament’s foreign affairs committee that Hamas was "betraying the Palestinian cause by spreading disunity among Palestinians and giving Israel an excuse to go to war," according to a report in Friday’s Cape Argus.

Halimeh blamed both sides for the collapse last month of a six-month truce and said that the refusal by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to enter into talks for a renewal of the truce had been a "strategic mistake." He said the Palestinian people and leadership were paying the price.

Job Sithole, the committee chairman and an African National Congress lawmaker, retorted that Hamas had won a democratic election to rule the territory. Other members of parliament accused Halimeh of speaking only for the Fatah faction and not for the Palestinian Authority as a whole, which the ambassador denied.

Meanwhile, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies said it was set to meet soon with South African president Kgalema Motlanthe to express its concern about "the very high levels of radical anti-Jewish sentiments and threats that have resulted" locally since the start of the recent Middle East conflict.

The South African government has been subjected to appeals – so far unheeded – to break diplomatic ties with Israel and impose sanctions on the country.

The Board would also discuss the relationship between the two countries, associate director David Saks told the newspaper.

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