Jerusalem accuses South Africa of boycotting Israel

Diplomatic sources say Israeli envoy will ask for clarifications after S. African Deputy FM calls on countrymen not to go to Israel.

South Africans protest Israel 370 (photo credit: reuters)
South Africans protest Israel 370
(photo credit: reuters)
Ambassador to South Africa Dov Segev-Steinberg will ask Pretoria for clarifications regarding what is viewed in Jerusalem as nothing less than a South African call for a boycott of Israel, diplomatic sources said on Monday.
The sources said a call by South Africa’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Ismael Ebrahim on Sunday to his countrymen to refrain from visiting Israel “let the cat out of the bag,” and demonstrated the hollowness of South African government protestations that it was against boycotts, and that the recent move to label items from the settlements was just trying to “promote transparency.”
“The truth is coming out,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Jonathan Rosenzweig said.
“This is a public call for a boycott.”
Ebrahim told the City Press newspaper he was “discouraging” South Africans from visiting Israel.
“Israel is an occupier country which is oppressing Palestine, so it is not proper for South Africans to associate with Israel,” he said. “We discourage people from going there except if it has to do with the peace process.”
The weekly paper said a planned trip to Israel by KwaZulu-Natal mayors and officials last week was called off because of pressure from the country’s pro-Palestine lobby.
Ebrahim’s comments came three months after South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry issued a memorandum stating that products from the settlements must not be labeled as Israeli products.
The South Africa Israel Public Affairs Committee issued a statement following Ebrahim’s comments, saying he has increasingly “allowed his personal agenda to drive South Africa’s policy towards Israel to the detriment of South Africa and its economic well-being and international relations.”
“Of course it is perfectly acceptable for the South African government to allow visits to all Arab/Muslim countries in spite of their appalling human rights records and real application of Apartheid policies,” the statement said. “South Africa’s ‘balanced’ approach to Libya and Syria has been noted in their lack of statements on what has [been] and is transpiring in these countries.”
The statement added that with corruption running rampant in South Africa, the government’s “increasing actions against Israel are all red herrings and classic attempts to sidetrack voters, fool the world” and retain its aura of “moral authority” amid “rapidly declining momentum.”