The African National Congress (ANC) has slammed Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane’s visit to Israel, accusing the opposition party of endorsing the Israeli government, instead of condemning its violations of international law.
It accused the opposition party of never standing in solidarity with the Palestinians, and failing to challenge the Israeli government on what it says are human rights violations. The ANC said the trip was aimed at undermining the government’s standing in the international community.
"The allegations that the Democratic Alliance is funded and controlled by Apartheid Israel sympathisers seems to be true," the ANC said in a statement on Thursday.
Maimane is on what the DA has described as a private and religious visit to Israel and Palestine.
He met with Prime Minister Benjamin Nethanyau and said it had requested to meet with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. However, Maimane’s spokesperson told News 24 that the meeting with Abbas was cancelled because of a "scheduling issue". He instead met with Palestinian officials, he said.
The party said Maimane had met with Israeli opposition leader Bougie Herzog and was planning to meet with Palestinian human rights activists and senior representatives of the Palestinian and Israeli business community.
"He is here to listen and learn about the conflict and the potential leadership role that South Africa could and should be playing in constructively assisting both parties to resume negotiations," the party said.
The DA said it was committed to a two-state solution, with South Africa playing a constructive role in bringing the two parties together, instead of inflaming tensions between them.
Wrong side of history
However, the ANC labelled the visit a "junket and propaganda trip". It said the DA should not mislead the public by suggesting that it shared the same position as the government on Palestine. The ruling party said it not only supported a just and fair solution, but had organised international solidarity campaigns with the people of Palestine.
"We, unlike the DA, call out Israel for its racism against African refugees, we condemn Israel’s Apartheid policies and its violations of international law, including building of illegal settlements and the inhumane Gaza siege," the ANC said.
It said the DA had placed itself on the wrong side of history by choosing the side of the oppressors and not the oppressed, and by failing to condemn Israel’s "apartheid policies" and violations of international law. This included the building of illegal settlements and the "inhumane Gaza siege".
"The DA seeks the votes of the communities and activists who support Palestine and human rights. However, the DA and its new leader cannot break away from the values of their handlers and their funders," the ANC said.
It said the visit was similar to Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga’s visit to Taipei, which was condemned by Department of International Relations and Co-operation.
"The recent political junket to Taiwan by Mayor of Tshwane also falls in this category - it is no coincidence that the DA has embarked on a disruptive anti-progressive diplomatic trips aimed to undermine the Republic of South Africa and its standing in the community of nations, the non-aligned movement and other multilateral institutions," the ANC said.