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November 1, 2013 5:46 pm

South African Ministers ‘Do Not Visit Israel,’ Foreign Minister Says

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South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. Photo: State Department. South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said that her government’s ministers do not visit Israel out of solidarity with the Palestinian cause.

“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,” Nkoana-Mashabane, who is a member of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), said at a South African trade union meeting, South Africa’s The Times reported.

“Our Palestinian friends have never asked us to disengage with Israel [through cutting diplomatic relations]. They had asked us in formal meetings to not engage with the regime. We have agreed to slow down and curtail senior leadership contact with that regime until things begin to look better,” she said.

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Nkoana-Mashabane added that she felt solidarity with the Palestinians, saying, “The struggle of the people of Palestine is our struggle.”

Israel and South Africa have recently had increasingly strained relations. This trend differs from other Sub-Saharan African nations who have sought out Israel’s economic, humanitarian, and high-tech expertise. Some prominent South African figures such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu or powerful South African trade unions have been very critical of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians.

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