Western Cape ANC calls for review of relations between SA, Israel

2017-01-16 23:30

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Cape Town - The Western Cape ANC has called for the downgrading of the status of the SA embassy in Tel Aviv and for a complete review of relations between the country and Israel.

Provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs on Monday slammed a statement "attacking the ANC" issued by Israel's embassy in Pretoria following a furore over DA leader Mmusi Maimane's visit to the country.

In a statement published on the embassy's website, ambassador Arthur Lenk said in recent years the ANC's "aggressive anti-Israel statements and bias have separated it from the positions of a vast majority of African states and the views of millions of South Africans".

The embassy said the ANC used anti-Semitic language "that is beyond the pale in the 21st century".

"In the past it has used horrific Holocaust imagery to attack Israel. This time it talks of political parties being 'funded and controlled' by supporters of Israel, using the oldest and ugliest tropes about Jews in politics."

It said the use of the term "apartheid" in discussions about Israel is "patently untrue and ugly", adding that the use of the word is an insult to South Africans who fought against the system.

'Unprecedented move'

"If the ANC was a true friend to Palestinians, it would encourage the Palestinian Authority to learn from South Africa's history and negotiate with Israel to make peace. Instead, it seems to merely support 'solidarity' by aggressively singling-out Israel and hurting chances for peace."

According to the embassy, the current ANC "seems not ready to talk, listen, travel or interact and it attacks people who do".

Jacobs described the embassy's statement as an unprecedented move, and called it an attack on the ANC.

"It's rare and unheard of for a foreign representative that is a guest of our government, to attack the governing party. We do not see it fit to respond publicly to the Israeli embassy's insults, allegations and misrepresentations but we warn the Israeli embassy and ambassador not to interfere with our political sovereignty," he said.

The "insult" has put SA-Israel relations into the spotlight, Jacobs continued.

"Indeed we in the ANC, as the governing party, resolved in our previous policy conference to continuously evaluate our relationship with Israel. This recent insult indicates the arrogance and the impunity with which the Israeli government operates and is a reminder that the government of Israel is likely using its state machinery to interfere with our sovereignty."

DA 'disingenuous'

News24 on Monday reported that the Palestinian embassy claimed it was not informed about Maimane's visit to Israel last week.

The embassy issued a media statement on Monday in which it said that the DA had been disingenuous in suggesting that Maimane was meeting leaders of both Israel and Palestine during his visit on Thursday.

The DA disagreed with the embassy's statement, saying the party had it on record from Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas's office of Maimane's planned meeting.

The party said South Africans don't require a visa to travel to the region, and it had communicated directly with the president's office.

Last week, Maimane met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit, and said he had requested to meet Abbas as well.

He instead met with Palestinian officials after the meeting with Abbas was cancelled due to a scheduling conflict.

See the full statement here

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  mmusi mai­mane  |  israel

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