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« Kasrils on Zionist Myths | Main | Being Arab in the Jewish State »

January 31, 2006


James Clark

*Is amazed.*

Thank you, Mr. President!

I'm embarrassed that I ever thought less of Thabo Mbeki on the Israel/Palestine issue. It's really great to see that he isn't pandering to some of the more Palestinian-biased elements of the ANC's voter base.


But he is still praising Hamas isnt he????


Not really praising Hamas. More not condemning them. think they are taking a wait and see approach.


With every Hamas leader currently singing a different tune its understandable for the anc to take this approach.
Mbekis's column contains many subtle innuendos of pressure. Praising the Israeli peace movement is a subtle sign that this is what he expects from a PA govt - and his reminder to Hamas that they are now the govt enforces is a clear sign that he expects them to become pragmatic.

But if they do not take a pragmatic approach (i dont think they can change) then Mbeki will still believe in the quiet diplomacy appraoch and he will never condemn them.

That is the problem. He can play the middle ground when he wants to, he can cosy up to the Palestinians when he wants to (ICJ case against security barrier) but he can never criticise or condemn them (or Zim or Iran).

Anyway, he had to say something, and given the narrow parameters with which he can play, this was about the best we could have hoped for.


Are the ANC after the Jewish Voters?


With only 80 000 Jews in South africa, I think that would be a stupid political move. We cant compete demographically with the Muslim community.

Also the vast majority of Jews are staunch DA supporters. I honestly dont see any except the left wing finge of the community voting ANC


Ya...more likely he is after the confidence of Israel because they really want to be involved in the peace talks. they are obsessed with getting involved in resolving world conflicts and thats why they trying to be nice to everyone. the thing is all they are doing is showing the rest of the world that they have no backbone. and this can be seen by their failure to condemn Iran's calls to wipe Israel off the map. they did that because they dont want Iran to stop talking to them.


The SA government has made two decisions recently that must have upset the Israeli leadership. The 1st not to publically condemn Iran's comments on Israel and the holocaust and 2nd not to publically call on Hamas to down arms and recognise Israel's right to exist. Both of these will have been noticed and commented on by Israeli leadership. Our absence on both these issues has been rather controversial.

Much as with our representation to the hague on the security barrier, our government has aligned itself away from the commomn international communities' opinion and compromised its position as an impartial negotiation facilitator. Thus, as with the vist of Olmert, Pres Mbeki has tried to find a public way to try and impress the Israelis.

The true test coming up now, is how we vote at the IAEA. The whole world is watching and the voting will be public.


I agree that those have been 2 serious mistakes. But I don’t think we could ever seriously have expected South Africa to denounce Hamas or Iran. As Steve pointed out Mbeki’s only foreign policy strategy is quiet diplomacy.

Gersh you make the mistake of assuming that a Western consensus is an international consensus. While Western countries may not have supported Israel being dragged before the international court over its security fence, many (if not most) Developing Nations did. South Africa is not in the Western block. When push comes to shove Mbeki will side with the Developing World. Thus his support for Hamas, Iran, Zimbabwe etc.

I also don’t believe that the letter was written to appease Israel. Why would it have been published in ANC today? He could rather have used a more government related channel. How many non ANC members let alone foreign diplomats read ANC today? Not many I would suspect. It was meant for his political base. But why? Who knows?

I think we will either abstain or vote against sending Iran to the security council. We would never betray a fellow Developing nation in the face of Western aggression.

Israel needs to be realistic about South Africa. They are no friend. At best they can put pressure on the Palestinians to come to the table. but they will expect impossible Israeli concessions in return.

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