Govt: No ban on official Israel visits

2013-11-07 11:34
An Israeli flag is seen in front of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim, on the outskirts of Jerusalem. (File, AP)

An Israeli flag is seen in front of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim, on the outskirts of Jerusalem. (File, AP)

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Cape Town - There is no ban on government officials travelling to Israel, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said on Thursday.

"Government has not imposed a ban on travel to the State of Israel by government officials," he told journalists in Cape Town following Cabinet's fortnightly meeting on Wednesday.

Cabinet's pronouncement on the matter follows International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane saying a week ago that South African ministers would not visit Israel.

"We have agreed to slow down and curtail senior leadership contact with that regime until things begin to look better," she said at the time, referring to the situation in Palestine.

Her comments provoked former Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman to warn the local Jewish community that South Africa was "creating an anti-Israel and anti-Semitic atmosphere".

In a widely reported statement, he warned that "a pogrom against Jews is only a matter of time".

Chabane on Thursday moved to reassure South Africa's Jewish community, insisting they "have nothing to fear".

He said Cabinet was concerned about public statements regarding the country's Jewish community.

"Cabinet recognises the right of the Palestinian people for self determination, and the right of Israel to exist alongside the state of Palestine. Their endeavours to find a solution to the conflict which will be just should continue.

"The South African Jewish community should have nothing to fear," he said.

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