State of South African Diplomatic Relations with the State of Israel, the reduction in contact with Israel, and the Visit by a MEC of the Western Cape Province to Israel

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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

FOR WRITTEN REPLY

QUESTION NO: 1350 (NW1592E)

PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 14-2012 OF 25 MAY 2012 Mr G B D Mc Intosh (Cope) to ask the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation:
  1. Whether South Africa, as a fellow member of the United Nations, has full diplomatic relations with the State of Israel; if so, for how long has this been the case;

  2. Whether there are any intentions to reduce contact with the State of Israel;  if not, What has her department’s advice been to a certain person (name and details furnished) in respect of his intention to visit Israel; if so, what are the reasons for these policies;

  3. (a) how and (b) on what date was this advice communicated to said person?
 REPLY
  1. Yes.  South Africa established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1975 – 37 years ago.

  2. South Africa maintains normal diplomatic relations with Israel, as evidenced by the presence of a resident South African ambassador in Tel Aviv and a resident Israeli ambassador in South Africa.  The South African Government considers it important to continue high-level engagement with the Israeli Government on advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, leading to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, existing side by side in peace with Israel within internationally recognised borders, based on those existing on 4 June 1967 prior to the outbreak of the Arab-Israeli war that year, and with East Jerusalem as its capital.

    In considering the advisability of other high-level visits between South Africa and Israel for the purpose of expanding bilateral relations, the South African Government is however obliged to take into account the intransigence of the current Israeli Government in its refusal to halt the ongoing Israeli settlement expansion in what is regarded by most of the international community as occupied Palestinian territory, as well as its unrelenting blockade of the coastal Palestinian enclave of Gaza, which has prevented the unrestricted entry of goods and services into the territory and amounts to collective punishment of its inhabitants. The refusal to halt settlement expansion has been identified by the Palestinian leadership and major powers as one of the principal obstacles to substantial progress in Israeli-Palestinian talks aimed at ending the Israeli occupation.

    Information to this effect was communicated to the MEC in question.

    The South African Government, however, looks forward to the Israeli Government responding positively on the above issues, which would enable closer engagement on bilateral matters between our two countries

  3. (a) The Department learnt about the intention of the MEC to visit Israel by email on 18 April 2012 and was thereafter in telephonic and email contact with the relevant Western Cape Province authorities regarding the invitation, conveying South Africa’s position on the issue.

(b) A letter from the Minister to the MEC was sent to his office on 11 May 2012.

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