South African Opposition Leader Defies Call for Boycott, Visits Israel
JNS.org — South Africa’s opposition leader traveled to Israel, meeting with top officials, just days after South African President Jacob Zuma called on his countrymen to boycott the Jewish state.
Mmusi Maimane, head of the Democratic Alliance (DA) party, was on a “mainly private and religious” visit, according to his spokesperson, Mabine Seabe.
While there, he has met with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Member of Knesset Isaac Herzog. Maimane was scheduled to speak with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas but, according to the DA Twitter feed, that meeting was cancelled and he visited instead with other Palestinian officials and human rights activists in Ramallah and Rawabi.
Maimane went to “listen and learn about the [Israel-Palestinian] conflict and the potential leadership role that South Africa could play,” Seabe told South African daily The Citizen, a sentiment that the politician echoed Thursday on Twitter:
Fascinating to be in Israel and Palestine. 2 state solution is still what we must pursue. Listening, learning. pic.twitter.com/Ld9BKQtI8L
— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) January 12, 2017
Zuma’s African National Congress (ANC) slammed Maimane for his visit, with ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa saying, “The DA is endorsing the Israeli regime instead of condemning its violations of international law,” reported South African paper IOL.
“The people of Palestine continue to suffer in their rightful quest for self-determination, and the ANC pledges its ongoing solidarity and support for their just cause,” Zuma said days before Maimane’s visit. “We reiterate that we firmly discourage travel to Israel for causes not related to fostering peace in the region.”