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Israeli Leader Breaks S. Africa Ban

February 24, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An Israeli Cabinet minister visiting South Africa has reportedly violated the government’s ban against any contact with officials of the South African government.

Avraham Shapira, a minister-without-port-folio representing the National Religious Party, had a three-hour talk with South African Minister of Home Affairs and Communications J.C.G. Botha. It took place during a flight from Durban to Cape Town, Maariv reported Tuesday.

According to a spokesman for Shapira, the minister said he had not known or recognized the South African official. He said South African Airways personnel seated them together and introduced them. They chatted during the flight on a number of issues, including relations between Israel and South Africa, Maariv reported.

Shapira received Foreign Ministry approval for his visit to South Africa, which he said was to promote immigration to Israel from the South African Jewish community.

Before departing last week, Shapira insisted he would not hold meetings with members of the South African government, though he did not rule out chance meetings at events marking the 40th anniversary of Israel’s independence.

Israel Radio said Tuesday that Shapira and Botha would meet again. The Cabinet voted last year to ban such contacts and restricted trade and cultural relations with South Africa as a mark of Israel’s disapproval of the apartheid regime.

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