BREAKING: Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, cancels appearance at Mandela's funeral saying "traveling to South Africa is too expensive" while Israeli President cancels citing the "flu"
Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has canceled his upcoming participation at Nelson Mandela's funeral being held in South Africa. According to Israel's Haaretz newspaper the Israeli Prime Minster's office is citing "the high costs of traveling to South Africa as one of the reasons for the cancellation" (click here: http://tinyurl.com/qelcct2
). Others are speculating that Netanyahu is cancelling due to threats of protest. Netanyahu had initially notified the South African authorities that he'd join the over 90 heads of state that are travelling to South Africa to honour Nelson Mandela but made a last minute cancellation earlier this morning.
Israel was one of the staunches and longest standing allies of white-ruled Apartheid South Africa. After his release from prison in 1990 Nelson Mandela commented how he had received invites to visit "almost every country in the world, except Israel"
. Since 1994, relations between Democratic South Africa and Israel have become difficult and tense due to Israel's previous support of Apartheid South Africa and its current occupation of Palestinian lands (see: https://ymlp.com/zAVtoo
Earlier this year, South Africa's Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane publicly criticised Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine saying
: “That arrangement there in Palestine keeps us awake...the last time I looked at the map of Palestine, I could not go to sleep...The struggle of the people of Palestine is our struggle". Nkoana-Mashabane further added that
: "[Government] Ministers of South Africa do not visit Israel currently...our Palestinian friends have asked us in formal meetings to not engage with the [Israeli] regime. We have agreed to slow down and curtail senior leadership contact with that regime until things begin to look better.”
Nelson Mandela was a strong supporter and defender of the Palestinian struggle. In 1999 Nelson Mandela said:
"The histories of our two peoples, Palestinian and South African, correspond in such painful and poignant ways, that I intensely feel myself being at home amongst compatriots [the Palestinians]…the long-standing fraternal bonds between our two liberation movements are now translating into relations between two governments".
Mthunzi Mbuli, a campaigner at BDS South Africa, commented: "For the likes of Netanyahu or any representative from Apartheid Israel to be at the funeral of our Madiba would be in-sensitive to Madiba, the legacy of Mandela and all us former oppressed justice-loving South Africans. No Israeli government official is welcome in South Africa for as long as Israel is practicing Apartheid against the Palestinians, Israeli government presence at Madiba's funeral would tarnish the good name of Mandela and South Africa. However, progressive Israelis that support the Palestinian struggle are always welcome, they enhance the good name of Nelson Mandela and South Africa."
Mbuli continues: "Its ludicrous that Netanyahu is claiming that his flight to South Africa is too expensive, we know for a fact, that Israeli leaders are finding it increasingly diffuctly to travel internationally due to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign. For example, Tzipi Livni, Israel's former Foreign Minister cancelled her trip to South Africa in 2011 due to threats of arrest (http://tinyurl.com/pllr6uz
). Its good that Israeli war-mongers like Netanyahu and Livni know that democratic South Africa does not approve of their violence against the indigenous Palestinian people whom us South Africans support whole-heartedly."
Netanyahu's presence at Mandela's funeral would not have been taken well by several Israelis, Mandela is still considered by many Israelis as a terrorist. Mandela's friendship with the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat (http://tinyurl.com/o2sxhjq
), and admiration for Palestinian freedom fighter, Leila Khaled (http://tinyurl.com/nc7r8sb
), is often criticised by Israelis and Israeli supporters.
Meanwhile, Israeli President Shimon Peres has allegedly been advised by his doctors to also not make the trip to South Africa
for Mandela's funeral. "The president is recovering from flu and doctors advised him not to fly," a spokesman for Peres said. Peres was Israel's Defense Minister in the 1970s and was involved in brokering military ties with Apartheid South Africa's white rulers.