South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor spoke by phone with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh on Tuesday.
According to the South African Department for International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO)—the country’s foreign ministry—reports that Pandor offered support for the “Battle of Al-Aqsa Flood”—the Palestinian terrorist organization’s name for its Oct. 7 massacre of more than 1,400 persons in Israel—are untrue and meant to “impugn” the minister and her government.
However, Howard Sackstein, political commentator and chairman of the South African Jewish Report, told JNS, “Naledi Pandor’s call to Hamas was originally denied by DIRCO and then subsequently confirmed.
“Hamas claims Pandor, a convert to Islam, congratulated them on the success of their operation. Pandor has a different version but DIRCO refuses to release the recording or transcript. Her views are not at odds with the ANC line which supports Russia, Venezuela, Cuba and Iran,” Sackstein said.
In a statement responding to criticism that South Africa was prepared to speak to Hamas, the Department for International Relations also said, “During the call, and in line with the government’s position, Minister Pandor reiterated South Africa’s solidarity and support for the people of Palestine and expressed sadness and regret for the loss of innocent lives, both Palestinians and Israelis.
“Minister Pandor and the Hamas leader discussed how to get the necessary humanitarian aid to Gaza and other parts of the Palestinian territories.”
“Minister Pandor’s call with the Hamas leader is in line with South Africa’s readiness to engage all interlocutors as part of facilitating dialogue to end the ongoing conflict. South Africa, therefore, calls on all sides to seize the opportunity for peace as opposed to violence, and for the international community to actively advocate for the implementation of its own international resolutions and establish a credible peace process.”
When news of the Oct. 7 atrocities broke, DIRCO released this statement:
“South Africa calls for the immediate cessation of violence, restraint, and peace between Israel and Palestine. South Africa expresses its grave concern over the recent devastating escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The new conflagration has arisen from the continued illegal occupation of Palestine land, continued settlement expansion, desecration of the al-Aqsa mosque and Christian holy sites, and ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people. The region is in desperate need of a credible peace process that delivers on the calls of a plethora of previous U.N. resolutions for a two-state solution and a just and comprehensive peace between Israel and Palestine.”
Sackstein told JNS, “The ANC have always been unequivocal supporters of the Palestinian cause but their foreign policy, which often reflects the Soviet Cold War view of the world, has been hijacked by radical elements who are supportive of Hamas.
“There is a Hamas office in Cape Town and the ANC has hosted Hamas in South Africa on a number of occasions. It took the ANC nine days to even condemn the attacks on civilians, which they then coupled with an allegation of genocide by Israel against Palestinians. Seven days after the butchering of Israeli civilians, the entire ANC national executive committee donned Palestinian keffiyehs and pledged unreserved support to Palestine.”