S. Africa reinstates envoy to Israel

Coovadia ends seven-week hiatus over Gaza flotilla incident.

2010 world cup 311 (photo credit: AP)
2010 world cup 311
(photo credit: AP)
Israel welcomed South Africa’s announcement Tuesday that it was returning its ambassador to Tel Aviv, a little more than a month and a half after Pretoria recalled the envoy to protest Israel’s raid on the Turkish ship trying to break the naval blockade of Gaza on May 31.
“We welcome the decision of the South Africans and believe the relations will go back to normal, as is fitting for ties important to both countries,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.
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“South Africa, has an important role to play in global political and social affairs.”
Off the record, government sources said the South Africans understood that their reaction had been exaggerated and that it was important for their interests to have an ambassador stationed here.
South Africa and Ecuador, along with Turkey, recalled their envoys following the flotilla incident, which left nine Turks dead. Nicaragua announced it was cutting off all diplomatic ties.
Turkey has said it would not return its ambassador until Israel apologized, agreed to an international investigation and paid compensation to the families of the dead and injured.
In announcing the return of the envoy, a South African Foreign Ministry statement said the country “continues to monitor developments in the region and to urge Israel to create a climate that is conducive to future negotiations between itself and the Palestinian Authorities.”
The statement also called on Israel to “lift its blockade of Gaza, which is causing untold suffering to thousands of innocent civilians.
The developments in the occupied Palestine Territories and Gaza continue to enjoy the scrutiny of the government, and in this regard, South Africa’s diplomatic missions in Tel Aviv and Ramallah play a crucial role.”