[Apologies for ealier press release, which was an early draft]
PRESS RELEASE: SA reiterates "discouragement" of trips to Israel
14 August 2012
South Africa's Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) held a press briefing this morning at 11h30 where, amongst other items, DIRCO reiterated South Africa's "discouragement" of trips to Israel - unless to further peace. The DIRCO Deputy Minister, Ebrahim Ebrahim, explained that continued trips to Israel "endorse the Israeli Occupation of Palestine which has been condemned by the entire international community". He continued, saying that, "a message should be sent to Israel that its Occupation of Palestine has to end."
The Deputy Minister further explained that this is not a new position and "was even a position of the previous administration".
The Deputy Minster's comments follow a similar position that was outlined by his counterpart, Deputy Minister Marius Fransman, last month in Cape Town: "Our government since 1994 has consistently supported the Palestinian cause whilst increasingly putting pressure on Israel towards a just and lasting solution on a number of levels including [an] economic-travel ban."
SA following international trend
In 2005 Palestinians issued a call for a program of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel till Israel abides by international law and basic human rights. BDS South Africa, a local branch of the international boycott of Israel movement, welcomed today's press conference.
In addition to Israel facing increasing isolation in the cultural and academic sectors, since 2005, several countries have officially stepped down or ended diplomatic relations with Israel.
- Since 2005 the United Kingdom has withdrawn a number of military export licenses to Israel and Ireland has canceled a contract for military equipment from Israel.
- In 2009 the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the Plurinational State of Bolivia cut diplomatic ties with Israel.
- In 2010, Turkey, once the most important importer of Israeli weapons, cut military ties with Israel.
- At the bringing of 2012, in a response to continued Israeli settlement and ‘judaeaisation’ of Jerusalem, the European Union heads of mission to the Palestinian National Authority issued a report calling for the preventing and discouraging of “financial transactions in support of [Israeli] settlement activity.”
- Earlier this month, on the 3rd of August, in an unusually forthright interview, the British Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould said that he detected a shift among British members of parliament towards a more critical view of Israel: "Israelis might wake up in 10 years' time and find out that the level of understanding in the international community has suddenly changed, and that patience for continuing the status quo has reduced," he said. "Support for Israel is starting to erode and that's not about these people on the fringe who are shouting loudly and calling for boycotts and all the rest of it. The interesting category are those members of [British] parliament in the middle, and in that group I see a shift."
- Finally, South Africa itself has supported a declaration on Palestine at the XIV Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), hosted in Durban in 2004, which stated, inter alia, that: “With regard to Member States, the Ministers called upon them to undertake measures, including by means of legislation, collectively, regionally and individually, to prevent any products of the illegal Israeli settlements from entering their markets consistent with the obligations under International Treaties, to decline entry to Israeli settlers and to impose sanctions against companies and entities involved in the construction of the wall and other illegal activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”
Finally, Jonathan Pollak, an Israeli pro-Palestinian activist visiting South Africa said of DIRCO's announcement and position: "Such steps as was reiterated by DIRCO today, are a great source of encouragement, showing South Africa's commitment to pressure Israel, the occupying force. It is an important first step in holding Israel accountable and forcing it to end its Occupation"
ISSUED BY MUHAMMED DESAI ON BEHALF OF BDS SOUTH AFRICA
BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS in SOUTH AFRICA (BDS SOUTH AFRICA)
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