S. Africa pulling back from Israel over Palestinian issue, gov’t minister says

(JTA) — South African government ministers do not visit Israel in solidarity with the Palestinians, the country’s international relations minister said.

“We have agreed to slow down and curtail senior leadership contact with that regime until things begin to look better,” Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said Friday, according to a report by the South African Press Association. “The struggle of the people of Palestine is our struggle.”

“Even the Jewish Board of Deputies that we engage with here, they know why our ministers are not going to Israel.”

Nkoana-Mashabane appeared to contradict herself during her remarks at a meeting of the Congress of South African Trade Unions’ international relations committee meeting.

First she said, “Our Palestinian friends have never asked us to disengage with Israel,” but later said the Palestinians “had asked us in formal meetings to not engage with the regime.”

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday in a statement on his Facebook page called Nkoana-Mashabane’s remarks “a combination of hypocrisy and classic anti-Semitism.”

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