While the government is not currently entertaining thoughts of cutting diplomatic ties with Israel, it is open to debate on the issue, says Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad.And here's WAFA, the Palestine News Agency:
This came after Muslim groups and trade unions in South Africa called for the government to cut ties with the Jewish state and impose a trade boycott.
Palestinian activist and former hijacker Leila Khaled also arrives in South Africa on Monday, with a similar message for the government to finally impose sanctions on Israel.
Pahad told Pretoria News on Friday: "The question of imposing sanctions isn't a matter that can be taken lightly and should be treated with great seriousness and so the government is ready to discuss with any organisation in respect of what we need to do, but what I think is unequivocal is our support for the Palestinians and our opposition to the escalation of tension in Gaza as well as in Lebanon."
He was speaking a day after he and other Cabinet colleagues met 60 representatives of the South African Muslim community.
Muslim Youth Movement president Na 'eem Jeenah said while they were not happy with government's decision not to take immediate action, they were buoyed by the fact that it was open for discussion.
He said a meeting involving the Muslim Judicial Commission, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and other bodies calling for tougher action against Israel would be held within the next two weeks.
"And in this we will push again for the complete severing of ties with Israel," he said.
An alliance of nongovernmental bodies, including the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), has called on the South African government to end diplomatic relations with Israel in an attempt to force a tougher stance on it.So while Israel is engaged in an orgy of destruction and murder in Gaza and in Lebanon it's good to know that solidarity activism is alive and well.
The bodies are also asking the South African government to recall its ambassador from Tel Aviv and ensure that no South African serves in any capacity in the Israeli security forces.
The organisations told reporters in Johannesburg yesterday that they also wanted South Africans to boycott Israeli products and support sanctions against the Israeli "apartheid state" until it ended the occupation of Palestinian territory.
"We call on workers not to buy Israeli goods in supermarkets. That money will go back and make sure they (Israel) buy more weapons (to attack Palestinians)," said Cosatu President Willie Madisha.
Palestine Solidarity Committee spokesman Salim Vally told reporters that the committee planned to organise a national day of action in South Africa in solidarity with Palestinians.
"We are fully behind calls made on actions to be taken," said South African Council of Churches general secretary Eddie Makue.