South Africa's deputy foreign minister is "discouraging" citizens from visiting Israel.
“Israel is an occupier country which is oppressing Palestine, so it is not proper for South Africans to associate with Israel,” Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, told the City Press newspaper. “We discourage people from going there except if it has to do with the peace process.”
Ebrahim said that South African should “scale down” economic ties with Israel, but claimed that he was not advocating a full breakdown of relations between the countries.
Ebrahim’s remarks follow South Africa’s recent indication that it would introduce legislation that would require products made in the “West Bank” to be marked with a distinct label, as to enable customers to differentiate between products that were made inside and outside of the Green Line.
Last week, officials from the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal province cancelled a trip to Israel, due to pressure from anti-Israel activists.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in South Africa applauded the news calling it “a major setback for the Israeli lobby,” the Mail and Guardian newspaper reported.
The chairman of the South Africa Israel Public Affairs Committee, David Hersch, issued a statement in response to the recent developments saying, “South Africa’s increasing actions against Israel are all red herrings and classic attempts to sidetrack voters, fool the world, and a pretence at moral authority riding the rapidly declining momentum that came with her democratic elections in 1994.”
“South Africa has obviously abandoned it ludicrous claims to becoming involved in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. It can no longer pretend to being an ‘honest broker’, which it never was,” Hersch said.