The South African Parliament has refused to meet with an Israeli delegation that was planning to visit members of the country’s assembly in Cape Town.
The planned visit by the Israeli delegation was rejected by the late Nelson Mandela’s ruling party the ANC which has the majority in Parliament with 249 seats out of a 400-seat assembly.
Commenting on ANC’s rejection, Mandla Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela, said: “We applaud Parliament’s decision to reject the invitation for the Israeli parliamentary delegation to visit. In so doing parliament has stayed true to Madiba’s [Mandela’s clan name] commitment to stand by the Palestinian cause”.
Mandla, who is himself a member of Parliament and holds the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee Whip, also expressed “gratitude and appreciation to the ANC parliamentary caucus for its resolute and firm stand to reject the Israeli invite” before calling on them to “pressurise [our] ANC led government to deny [the Israeli delegation] access to [our] country.”
The decision was warmly greeted by various organisations, human rights groups and political parties. The human rights and Palestine solidarity organisation, BDS South Africa, was amongst the groups that welcomed the snub.
In welcoming the decision, South Africa’s largest trade union federation, COSATU, has however, cautioned that: “We are aware that certain reactionary opposition parties and individuals will try to circumvent this Parliamentary decision and still fraternise with the Israeli delegation.”
COSATU went on to compare Israeli apartheid to the apartheid in South Africa saying
those who entertained officials from apartheid SA were on the wrong side of history during the 1980s, and those who are entertaining Israel today will be judged harshly by history.
In a press statement BDS South Africa said: “Indeed, the people of South Africa, through our Parliament, have spoken – South Africa stands with the people of Palestine and their progressive Jewish Israeli allies fighting for an end to Israeli apartheid, occupation and oppression.”
We believe that amidst the Israeli oppression, the people of Palestine, when they hear of this act of solidarity from South Africa, will find strength and motivation.
“BDS South Africa will continue to work with partner organisations on the isolation of apartheid Israel until it complies by international law,” they added.