No ban on official Israel visits - Cabinet

2013-11-07 19:54
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - The government sought to reassure the Jewish community on Thursday of its place in South Africa, saying there was no ban on officials travelling to Israel.

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

However, he said recent tensions went beyond questions of a travel ban to Pretoria's policy on the Middle East, and therefore Cabinet felt it needed to reiterate South Africa's stated position that it supported both Palestinian self-determination and Israel's right to statehood.

"We are not only dealing with the issue of a travel ban... The concerns raised arise out of the Middle East problem," Chabane said.

He said he had met the SA Jewish Board of Deputees several times to state the government's position, but conceded that this was prior to a furore created by comments by International Relations Deputy Minister Marius Fransman.

"South African Jews are as South African as we are and they have nothing to fear," he said.

Last month, Fransman told journalists that Cape Town was ethnically divided if one looked at land ownership patterns.

He said "the reality is... 98%... of the land owners and property owners actually is the white community and, in particular, also people in the Jewish community".

‘Anti-Semitic remarks’

The statement caused upset within the ANC, with MP Ben Turok calling for Fransman to be disciplined for "anti-Semitic" remarks.

Last week, more questions arose when International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said 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.

Chabane refused to say whether Fransman or any other minister had been rebuked, relying on the fact that he was addressing a briefing on Cabinet, and explaining that "Cabinet cannot be dealing with individual Cabinet ministers".

Nkoana-Mashabane's 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".

The Cabinet statement responded to this with an explicit assurance that South African policy remained unchanged.

Read more on:    anc  |  ben turok  |  marius fransman  |  maite nkoana-mashabane  |  collins chabane  |  cape town  |  israel  |  parliament 2013

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.