South Africa’s rul­ing party crit­i­cized over Hanegbi’s visit

Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By ILANIT CHERNICK

The African Na­tional Congress was crit­i­cized this week by sources within the rul­ing party and ex­ter­nal groups after two of its se­nior of­fi­cials met with Re­gional Co­op­er­a­tion Min­is­ter Tzachi Hanegbi in Jo­han­nes­burg.

On Mon­day, Hanegbi met with vet­eran politi­cian and Min­is­ter in the Pres­i­den­tial Of­fice Jeff Radebe and with Min­is­ter of Wa­ter and En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs Edna Molewa.

Over the past five years, Is­raeli min­is­ters have been un­able to meet with their South African coun­ter­parts due to ten­sions over what the rul­ing party has deemed the “oc­cu­pa­tion of Pales­tine.”

The ANC Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee’s Sub­com­mit­tee on In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions said the meet­ing was held at the re­quest of Hanegbi’s of­fice.

“The del­e­ga­tion was re­ceived by Com­rade Edna Molewa, chair­woman of the In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions sub­com­mit­tee, to­gether with some of its mem­bers,” the rul­ing party said. “A num­ber of is­sues were dis­cussed, in­clud­ing a rec­om­men­da­tion of the re­cently held Na­tional Pol­icy Con­fer­ence re­lat­ing to the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict: namely the down­grad­ing of South Africa’s Em­bassy in Is­rael. The sub­com­mit­tee has in­formed the del­e­ga­tion that the rec­om­men­da­tion stands as com­ing from NPC and that a de­ci­sion in this re­gard would be taken at the ANC’s up­com­ing Na­tional Con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber.”

The In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions sub­com­mit­tee fur­ther re­it­er­ated the ANC’s com­mit­ment to a two-state so­lu­tion to the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict and em­pha­sized that ur­gent steps should be taken to re­sume talks be­tween the two sides.

“It is in the in­ter­ests of both Pales­tini­ans and Is­raelis that this pro­tracted con­flict should come to an end and a last­ing so­lu­tion found,” Molewa said.

She em­pha­sized that “the ANC re­mains com­mit­ted to play­ing a con­struc­tive role in the Mid­dle East peace process and within the in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions arena in gen­eral; and as such, views reg­u­lar en­gage­ment with ac­tors across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum as key to its ef­forts.”

De­spite the rul­ing party’s of­fi­cial state­ment, gov­ern­ment spokesman Zizi Kodwa told South Africa’s The Cit­i­zen news­pa­per he was not im­pressed upon learn­ing about the meet­ing.

The party had con­tacted Molewa and Radebe for an­swers, he said.

“We will await a re­port from the in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions sub­com­mit­tee about how it could be that a sub­com­mit­tee of the ANC has meet­ings with the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment in view of the res­o­lu­tions the ANC has about Is­rael,” Kodwa said. “We have got a very clear res­o­lu­tion about our re­la­tion­ship with them in both gov­ern­ment and the party.”

The anti-Is­rael group South African Jews for a Free Pales­tine said it was dis­ap­pointed the meet­ing took place and that the ANC “has not re­jected the Is­raeli PR strongly or force­fully enough.”

“Why would the ANC have held such a meet­ing in the first place?” SAJFP spokesman Al­lan Hor­witz asked. “How would the ANC view a meet­ing dur­ing the 1970s of, for ex­am­ple, an ally, Julius Ny­erere’s Tan­za­nia African Na­tional Union, meet­ing with a min­is­ter from Apartheid South Africa?

“The ANC and the larger lib­er­a­tion move­ment would right­fully have con­demned such moves and like­wise Pales­tini­ans – as well as hu­man-rights groups sup­port­ing Jewish South Africans and our pro­gres­sive Jewish Is­raeli al­lies – also con­demn this.”

The SAJFP said it hoped the ANC’s In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions Sub-Com­mit­tee was not at­tempt­ing to de­rail the rec­om­men­da­tion from ANC branches for down­grad­ing the sta­tus of the South African Em­bassy in Tel Aviv.

“The down­grade is a con­crete step be­yond rhetoric,” it said. “Is­rael must be held ac­count­able for its crimes against the Pales­tinian peo­ple, and a clear mes­sage must be sent that there are no nor­mal re­la­tions with an ab­nor­mal regime.”

Is­raeli Am­bas­sador to South Africa Lior Keinan, who at­tended the meet­ing, said: “Is­rael and South Africa have a lot to dis­cuss. We look for­ward to more di­a­logue and more South African in­volve­ment in the Mid­dle East. The min­is­ter was well re­ceived in all the meet­ings in which we had open and very sin­cere di­a­logue about the present and fu­ture of di­plo­matic re­la­tions be­tween Is­rael and South Africa.”

(Face­book)

RE­GIONAL CO­OP­ER­A­TION MIN­IS­TER Tzachi Hanegbi dances with tra­di­tional Zulu dancers dur­ing a Jewish com­mu­nity event in Jo­han­nes­burg on Sun­day night.

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