Israel denying Nzimande a visa creates ‘serious diplomatic problem’

2015-04-24 08:21

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The decision to deny Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande a visa to travel to Palestine is “an anti-government protest by Israel”, Nzimande’s spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana said.

“This is not only an act against him, but also an act against him as a member of Cabinet, so by extension it’s an anti-government protest,” Nkwanyana told News24 yesterday.

He said it had created a “serious diplomatic problem”. The reason Israel gave for the refusal was that Nzimande was “one of the most vocal anti-Israeli government ministers”.

Nzimande was meant to travel to Palestine today until next Wednesday. It was intended as a follow-up visit to promote collaboration in research between the University of Johannesburg and institutions in Palestine.

Nzimande would call on all higher education institutions to cut ties with their counterparts in Israel.

“We must just boycott Israel,” Nkwanyana said.

Nzimande is a vocal critic of the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians and has called for South Africa to boycott Israeli imports.

Speaking at the University of Johannesburg in August last year, he said Israel was waging a “vicious campaign” against Palestinians.

“[They] have clearly been massacred for the crime of demanding the return of their land and self-determination. This genocidal campaign must be condemned in the strongest terms possible,” he said.

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