The Inner Cabinet’s decision Wednesday to impose far-reaching sanctions against South Africa affecting almost every aspect of Israel’s relations with that country has drawn sharp criticism from South Africa’s Jewish community.
But it is “within the acceptable framework of differences of opinion between us,” Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a special Rosh Hashanah eve interview Thursday.
The concerns and interests of South African Jewry “certainly were” taken into consideration during the Inner Cabinet’s deliberations, Peres said. “The Jewish consideration caused us to weigh our decisions very, very carefully.”
According to reports reaching here Thursday, the South African Board of Jewish Deputies and the Zionist Federation issued statements deploring the Israeli decision and asserting it would not promote the creation of a just society in South Africa.
The Inner Cabinet, the government’s top policy-making body, is composed of five Labor and five Likud Ministers. But Wednesday’s unanimous decision was adopted by the six Ministers present. Three Likud Ministers are absent abroad, including Ariel Sharon who is known to be opposed to tougher measures against South Africa.
In addition to the sanctions, the Inner Cabinet resolved that the government will help establish a special fund for assistance in educational and cultural projects for South African Black and Colored students studying in Israel.
The measures adopted are much more severe than Israel had previously taken against the apartheid regime in Pretoria. They bring Israel into line with most European countries in the matter of sanctions but are less tough than those imposed or recommended by the U.S. government and by many Third World states. Israel’s military relations with South Africa are not affected nor are regular trading ties.
Last year Israel imported about $181.1 million of goods from South Africa, mostly coal, and exported about $54.8 million in products. Officials here stressed that was a relatively low level of trade. The figures do not include military items.
MEASURES BY THE INNER CABINET
The Inner Cabinet decided on the following measures:
No new investments in South Africa will be approved by the government. Exceptions may be appealed to a special committee.
No government loans or sale of oil to South Africa.
The purchase of Krugerrands will be forbidden.
Import of iron and steel from South Africa will be frozen at present levels.
All official cultural links with South Africa will cease.
Sports relations with South Africa will be severed. Israel will act in this matter in accordance with the guidelines of international sporting bodies.
No official promotion of tourism to South Africa.
No scientific agreements will be signed between the two countries.
No government officials will visit South Africa. Exceptions may be approved by a special Foreign Ministry committee.
The government will take all steps necessary to avoid Israel serving as a staging point for the transfer to South Africa of goods and services boycotted by third parties.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.