Minister unfazed by criticism over Israel

2012-08-17 22:16
Ebrahim Ebrahim  (File, GCIS)

Ebrahim Ebrahim (File, GCIS)

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Pretoria - Israel should cease the displacement of Palestinians and its occupation of their territory, Deputy International Relations Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim said on Friday.

Ebrahim said criticism on his discouraging of South Africans to travel to Israel was missing the point.

"We do not encourage people to go to Israel because we think the whole question of Palestine and Israel has to be looked in the context of what is taking place in Palestine," he said.

Palestinians were increasingly suffering as a result of Israel's occupation of their land and the matter had to be urgently resolved, said Ebrahim.

"Most of the criticism does not seem to address the main issue here. The main issue here is not whether you go to Israel or not. The issue is 'are there any steps taken by these people to stop the increasing settlement'," he said.

"There has to be a move to address the suffering of the Palestinian people. The daily humiliation of Palestinians is a cause for concern."

Ebrahim said government was not discontinuing the travel of South Africans to Israel.

"It's a Constitutional right of every South African to go wherever they want to. It is also a Constitutional right of every South African to have a passport," he said.

Ebrahim was addressing reporters on the sidelines of the second meeting of the Vietnam-South Africa Partnership Forum held in Pretoria.

After engaging the Vietnamese delegation led by Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Le Luong Minh, Ebrahim said both countries had expressed deep concern over the ongoing illegal hunting and trafficking of wildlife products, particularly rhino horn.

"The two sides agreed to work closely together, through bilateral and multi-lateral mechanisms, to address concerns in this area to protect these endangered species," he told reporters in Pretoria.

A memorandum of understanding in the fields of bio-diversity management and law enforcement had been agreed upon, said Ebrahim.

The agreement sought compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and other legislation.

The pact would now be tested in the legal processes of both countries before being signed.

Minh said his country was intensely concerned about the widespread poaching problem.

"We discussed and shared the concerns over the illegal hunting, trade, and trafficking of wildlife," said Minh.

Media reports cited the "obsession" with rhino horn products in Vietnam as a serious threat to the world's rhino population.

Rhino horn products are perceived to have curative powers for an assortment of ailments, from headaches to cancer.

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