A day after calling for an end to sanctions against Iran and saying that Tehran
respects human rights, South Africa’s Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
said Friday that South African ministers are not visiting Israel out of
solidarity with the Palestinians.
“Ministers of South Africa do not visit
Israel currently. Even the Jewish Board of Deputies that we engage with here,
they know why our ministers are not going to Israel,” South Africa’s The Times
quoted the minister as saying.
Nkoana-Mashabane was speaking at a meeting
of South Africa’s largest trade union, which was also addressed by a group
campaigning for the release of all Palestinian political prisoners, the Times
“The struggle of the people of Palestine is our struggle,” she
“The last time I saw a map of Palestine, I couldn’t sleep,”
Nkoana-Mashabane added, explaining that the map “is just dots, smaller than those
of the homelands, and that broke my heart.” The “homelands,” also called
Bantustans, were territories set aside for blacks in apartheid-era South
Iran’s nuclear quest, however, did not bother the South African
foreign minister, who on Thursday praised Iran for its “respect” for human
“South Africa, like all other peace-loving democratic countries
that also respect human rights, like Iran, calls for lifting of unilateral
sanctions which would be encouraged by these talks that the honorable minister
had referred to,” she said during a press conference in Pretoria with Iran’s
visiting Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“Conditions would be
peaceful coexistence, acceptance that all countries, signatories in particular
of the [nonproliferation treaty] have the right for peaceful usage of enriched
uranium for energy needs, for health, technology usage,” she continued,
according to a Voice of America report. During the visit, according to the
report, the two countries – which claim close ties – reaffirmed their “peaceful,
constructive and lasting relationship.”
Israeli diplomatic officials
downplayed Nkoana-Mashabane’s comments about no ministerial visits to Israel,
saying there has not been a ministerial visit from or to South Africa for
“There is nothing new here,” the official said, adding that
Israeli-South African relations have been on a back burner for years, with only
a small amount of trade and tourism.
Regarding her Bantustan analogy, the
official said it was “unworthy of comment.”
Jerusalem Post staff
contributed to this report.