YESH ATID MK Dov Lipman meets with Moses Masango MP, from the ruling ANC who is chairman of the International Relations Committee in Pretoria, on Thursday..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman became the first member of Knesset to visit the South African Parliament in more than five years over the weekend.
In meetings with members of parliament from four political parties, including the ruling African National Congress, Lipman raised the idea of renewing cooperation between the Knesset and the parliament. He talked about the lessons that each country can learn from the other, and their shared democratic values.
“The meeting with the ANC was tense,” Lipman said in an interview from Johannesburg on Saturday night. “They confronted me about certain things and I answered them. I didn’t feel animosity. There is definitely a basis now for things to get better.”
Lipman explained the challenges Israel faced during Operation Protective Edge from rockets and tunnels. He said he felt his South African counterparts understood Israel’s restraint and its dilemmas.
The Yesh Atid MK was invited and accompanied by Ambassador Arthur Lenk, and was sent as an official representative of the Knesset. He said he hoped a delegation of South African parliamentary members would reciprocate by visiting the Knesset soon.
The South African representatives told Lipman they wanted friendly relations and economic ties with Israel and to be of help in the peace process.
On that diplomatic issue, they accepted Lipman’s call to encourage and embolden moderates in the Middle East.
“These meetings were a critical first step in improving cooperation and friendship between Israel and South Africa,” Lipman said. “Channels of dialogue are now open, which enabled me to answer their hard questions and to explain the conflict from the Israeli perspective. We will work to strengthen these ties while also increasing trade and cooperation in all areas.”