South Africa considers Israel sanctions

IOL (SA), July 15:

South Africa open to debate on cutting ties with Israel

While the government is not currently entertaining thoughts of cutting diplomatic ties with Israel, it is open to debate on the issue, says Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad.

This came after Muslim groups and trade unions in South Africa called for the government to cut ties with the Jewish state and impose a trade boycott.

Palestinian activist and former hijacker Leila Khaled also arrives in South Africa on Monday, with a similar message for the government to finally impose sanctions on Israel.

Pahad told Pretoria News on Friday: “The question of imposing sanctions isn’t a matter that can be taken lightly and should be treated with great seriousness and so the government is ready to discuss with any organisation in respect of what we need to do, but what I think is unequivocal is our support for the Palestinians and our opposition to the escalation of tension in Gaza as well as in Lebanon.”

He was speaking a day after he and other Cabinet colleagues met 60 representatives of the South African Muslim community.

Muslim Youth Movement president Na ‘eem Jeenah said while they were not happy with government’s decision not to take immediate action, they were buoyed by the fact that it was open for discussion.

He said a meeting involving the Muslim Judicial Commission, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and other bodies calling for tougher action against Israel would be held within the next two weeks.

“And in this we will push again for the complete severing of ties with Israel,” he said.

He and other Muslim representatives on Thursday met Pahad, Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils, Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and others to discuss the community’s perception that it was the target of increased security surveillance by the State.[…]

The initiative for a debate follows a July 11 call by COSATU and others, from WAFA:

South African Cosatu: Cut Ties with Israel

JOHANNESBURG,(WAFA) – An alliance of nongovernmental bodies, including the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), has called on the South African government to end diplomatic relations with Israel in an attempt to force a tougher stance on it.

The bodies are also asking the South African government to recall its ambassador from Tel Aviv and ensure that no South African serves in any capacity in the Israeli security forces.

The organisations told reporters in Johannesburg yesterday that they also wanted South Africans to boycott Israeli products and support sanctions against the Israeli “apartheid state” until it ended the occupation of Palestinian territory.

“We call on workers not to buy Israeli goods in supermarkets. That money will go back and make sure they (Israel) buy more weapons (to attack Palestinians),” said Cosatu President Willie Madisha.

Palestine Solidarity Committee spokesman Salim Vally told reporters that the committee planned to organise a national day of action in South Africa in solidarity with Palestinians.

“We are fully behind calls made on actions to be taken,” said South African Council of Churches general secretary Eddie Makue.

See our last post on Israel/Palestine. See our last post on the movement to boycott Israel.

  1. Time for sanctions against Israel – Khaled

    July 14 2006 at 12:16PM
    By Angela Quintal

    Palestinian activist and former hijacker Leila Khaled will arrive in South Africa on Monday with a message for the government: “It’s time for sanctions against Israel”.

    She will visit the country for the first time to attend the Encounters Film Festival in Johannesburg and Cape Town, where a documentary about her called, Hijacker: The Life of Leila Khaled, will be screened.

    Among the politicians she may meet is Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad, who this week rejected calls from Cosatu and other organisations for Pretoria to break diplomatic relations with Israel and implement sanctions.

    She is also hoping to meet former president Nelson Mandela, who she describes as “our great hero”.

    Speaking from Amman, Jordan, Khaled said she had just spent the afternoon protesting against Israel’s latest incursions into Gaza, as well as the attacks on southern Lebanon in retaliation for the capture and killing of soldiers by Hezbollah.

    “It’s my message and my people’s message to South Africa: It is time for sanctions against the apartheid regime in Israel. As the world succeeded in supporting the struggle of the South Africans against the apartheid regime, it is time to punish Israel for its terrorist acts against our people and now its widening attack on the Lebanese too.”

    She said she agreed with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that President Thabo Mbeki should play a role in the peace process, given South Africa’s moral authority.

    Khaled, a member of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is diplomatic about South Africa’s support for a two-state solution, as given that she rejects it outright and does not recognise the state of Israel.

    “We are looking for a democratic state in Palestine, where all Jews and Arabs, can live equally and on an equal basis.”On the Hamas government in the Palestinian territories, Khaled says she respects the choice of her people.

    “I am not in Hamas, but I respect my people. They chose Hamas and we have to accept it. It is not up to others to tell us who to choose. This is not democracy.”

    She believes her people can learn from SA’s reconciliation process should the day arrive when Arab and Jew will live side by side in Palestine.

    “When we go back to our homeland, it will mean that we will have to reconcile with our occupiers.”

    Despite the years of struggle, she says she has not lost hope. “We will go back to our country. If not our generation, then the second generation, but we have to pave the way – I have never lost hope. I am very sure that one day we will go back to Palestine.”

    Khaled, who hijacked a plane in 1969 and then again in 1970 because she wanted to put the Palestinian issue on the international agenda, believes it is no longer a legitimate form of protest.

    “We felt that it achieved a goal and we stopped it voluntarily. Those hijackings were very clean, we did not hurt anybody.”

    However, Khaled is not about to condemn suicide bombings in Israel, although she does not believe that it “is a strategic way of struggle”.

    “We are not only protesting, we are struggling for our humanity. What do you expect from a youngster when his house is demolished, his father is killed, he is not allowed to work or go to school? He’d go and do it, because the Israeli’s have made life hell for us.”