Senior South African leaders endorse boycott of Israel

Click photo to download. Caption: The flag of South Africa. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.( Relations between Israel and South Africa may take a significant step backwards after senior South African leaders endorsed a boycott of Israel, the Times of Israel reported.

South African delegates at the International Solidarity Conference, hosted by the South African government, endorsed the anti-Israel Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement.

There was “wide-spread support from international delegates for the adoption and support of the Palestinian BDS call,” a press release from the South African BDS chapter said.

Additionally, according to the release, South Africa’s deputy president Baleka Mbete said that Israel was actually “far worse than Apartheid South Africa,” in response to a German delegate who objected to Israel being compared to apartheid South Africa.

While the South African government is officially against boycotts of Israel, the recent statements by senior leaders are creating mixed signals at a time when relations are already strained between the two countries.

“The government of South Africa has stated time and again that it is against boycotts,” said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. “We’re waiting for South African officials to respond and clarify the official position.”

Last spring, South Africa’s trade and industry minister began encouraging South African traders to label products from Israel as originating from “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” 

Then in August, South Africa’s deputy foreign minister called on citizens to avoid visiting Israel because of its treatment of Palestinians.  

Posted on October 29, 2012 .