The views expressed by Minister Mashabane’s Deputy Minister, discouraging South Africans from visiting Israel.
FOR WRITTEN REPLY
QUESTION NO: 2216 (NW2758E)
PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 27-2012 OF 24 AUGUST 2012
REV KRJ MESHOE (ACDP) TO ASK THE MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION:
- Whether the views expressed by her Deputy Minister, discouraging South Africans from visiting Israel (details furnished), represents the policy of the Government on Israel; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, when was the policy adopted?
- The South African Government remains gravely concerned that the current Israeli government persists with ongoing settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which is regarded by most of the international community as occupied Palestinian territory. Some 500 000 Israeli settlers are now said to be living in the territory, thus rendering increasingly unlikely 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 so-called Arab-Israeli Six Day war, and with East Jerusalem as its capital.
- In these circumstances, the South African Government is of the view that, while normal diplomatic ties are maintained with Israel, the expansion of these relations is effectively hindered by the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, as well as by the ongoing Israeli blockade of the Gaza enclave, which amounts to collective punishment of the inhabitants of the enclave. As such, official high-level bilateral visits, other than for the purpose of advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, are not actively encouraged at present because such visits may appear to endorse Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and the human rights violations suffered by the Palestinians. Visits to Israel by South African citizens for tourism or other non-official purposes is of course a matter of personal choice and freedom, our duty as Government is to ensure that our citizens are aware of the preceding circumstances.
- This is owing to the refusal of the current Israeli government in September 2010 to renew its own moratorium on settlement expansion, which led to the breakdown in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.