August 15, 2012
Discouraging S. African visits to Israel constitutes boycott, envoy says
Israel’s envoy to South Africa said a government minister’s statement that South Africans would be “discouraged” from visiting Israel represents a boycott of his country.
“The cat is out of the bag,” said Dov Segev-Steinberg, Israel’s ambassador to South Africa.
Taken together with the government proposal that goods emanating from the West Bank be labeled as coming from occupied territories instead of Israel, he said it was clear the intention was to boycott Israel.
Describing South Africa’s stance as “very regrettable,” Segev-Steinberg said that “Instead of using the South African way of dialogue to promote peace, this is completely the opposite.”
South Africa’s deputy minister of international relations, Ebrahim Ebrahim, at a news conference Tuesday confirmed his controversial statements published in a local newspaper over the weekend but denied that the policy constituted a boycott of Israel.
“We do not prevent them. We say we discourage them,” Ebrahim said, according to the Cape Times. “The decision is left to the individual or the organization that is invited to visit Israel. There has been a policy of discouraging because we believe Israel is an occupying power and is doing all sorts of things in the Palestine-occupied territory which has been condemned by the entire international community.”
In other areas of diplomacy, the country has always emphasized the need for dialogue and engagement, but it appears that its policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to prevent the Israeli case from being heard, the statement said.