Zulu king announces Israel visit

2012-08-17 00:00

DESPITE the South African government’s stance in discouraging its citizens from visiting Israel, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has announced that he will visit the country between February and March next year.

Zwelithini made the announcement at KwaNongoma during a visit by AmaZulu Football Club on Tuesday to receive his blessings after the club’s recent poor performance.

A source who attended the gathering said the visit coincided with a meeting between Israeli ambassador Dov Segev-Steinberg and the king.

The Times of Israel said on its website yesterday that despite South Africa’s call for a boycott, the Zulu king would visit Israel next year.

The king had promised to “intensify bilateral co-operation”, the post said.

City Press reported on Sunday that Deputy International Relations Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim has publicly discouraged South Africans from visiting Israel.

The paper quoted Ebrahim saying: “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.”

Last week, a planned trip to Israel by KwaZulu-Natal mayors and officials was reportedly called off due to pressure from the local pro-Palestinian lobby.

Yesterday, SA Communist Party spokesperson Malesela Maleka said it was unfortunate that the king had accepted the invitation to visit Israel.

Zwelithini’s spokesperson, Thulani Zulu, said the king’s response to the invitation did not mean that the visit was confirmed.

Ndabe Sibiya, a spokesperson for the Office of the Premier in KZN, confirmed that the king had received an invitation, but added that government departments would have a say in the matter.

“There are processes followed when dealing with invitations.

“In this instance, the International Relations and Co-operation Department and cabinet have to look at the invitation,” he said.

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