CAPE TOWN, South Africa (JTA) — South Africa’s deputy international relations minister, Ebrahim Ebrahim, is "discouraging" his countrymen from visiting Israel.
“Israel is an occupier country which is oppressing Palestine, so it is not proper for South Africans to associate with Israel” unless the visit is associated with the peace process, he said, according to a report Sunday in the City Press.
Ebrahim denied the call was a step toward a complete boycott of Israel. South Africa’s department of trade and industry indicated recently its intention to introduce legislation that would require all goods from the West Bank to be labeled as such.
Last week, a planned trip to Israel by KwaZulu-Natal province mayors and officials was called off due to pressure from the local pro-Palestinian lobby.
Ebrahim told the City Press that South Africa should “scale down” its economic ties with Israel, but said he did not advocate a complete breakdown of relations. The country has formal diplomatic ties with Israel.
Describing the South African government’s record on international human rights as being "highly selective," the South Africa Israel Public Affairs Committee’s David Hersch said in response that the country has "obviously abandoned its ludicrous claims to becoming involved in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs."
"It can no longer pretend to being an ‘honest broker,’ " Hersch said, "and is using the Israel-Palestine issue to pander to Muslim voters, particularly in the Cape Province and Cape Town, which are governed most successfully by the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA)."