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Cablegate: Sag Intelligence Minister Led Official Delegation

VZCZCXYZ0013
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSAA #1961 1511032
ZNR UUUUU ZZH ZUI RUEWMCF0942 1511035
R 311032Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0000
INFO ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK

UNCLAS PRETORIA 001961

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER IS KPAL SF
SUBJECT: SAG INTELLIGENCE MINISTER LED OFFICIAL DELEGATION
TO PALESTINE

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: SAG INTELLIGENCE MINISTER RONNIE KASRILS
LED AN OFFICIAL SAG DELEGATION TO PALESTINE IN EARLY MAY AND
MET PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS AND PRIME MINISTER ISMAIL
HANIYAH, AMONG OTHERS. KASRILS MADE COMPARISONS BETWEEN THE
SITUATION IN PALESTINE AND THE APARTHEID ERA, CHARACTERIZING
THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION AS "MODERN DAY APARTHEID." KASRILS
INVITED PRIME MINISTER ISMAIL HANIYAH TO A RECIPROCAL VISIT.
PRO-ISRAELI JEWISH GROUPS IN SOUTH AFRICA DENOUNCED THE
INVITATION. IN CONTRAST, LOCAL ISLAMIC GROUPS SUPPORTED THE
SAG'S EFFORTS AND ENDORSED HANIYAH'S VISIT AS "ONE OF THE
MOST CONSTRUCTIVE FOREIGN POLICY ENGAGEMENTS" OF THE SOUTH
AFRICAN GOVERNMENT. THE ORGANIZERS OF UPCOMING
PRO-PALESTINIAN EVENTS IN SOUTH AFRICA HAVE CALLED ON THE
UNITED NATIONS TO PROVIDE INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION FOR THE
PALESTINIAN PEOPLE; AND SOME ADVOCATE FOR ECONOMIC BOYCOTTS
AND SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL. THE SAG, AT UN REQUEST,
RECENTLY HOSTED THE UN CONFERENCE OF AFRICAN SOLIDARITY WITH
PALESTINE WHICH WAS ATTENDED BY PALESTINIAN AND ISRAELI
POLITICIANS, ACADEMICS AND DELEGATES FROM GOVERNMENT AND
CIVIL SOCIETY. PAST INVITATIONS TO LEADERS OF HAMAS AND THE
PLO IN RECENT YEARS HAVE FAILED TO OCCUR DUE TO "SCHEDULING
CONFLICTS." END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) FROM 01-06 MAY, SAG INTELLIGENCE MINISTER RONNIE
KASRILS LED AN OFFICIAL SAG DELEGATION TO THE PALESTINIAN
TERRITORIES INCLUDING THE GAZA STRIP AND THE WEST BANK.
KASRILS DELEGATION INCLUDED REPRESENTATIVES OF THE SAG AND
RULING AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS (ANC) PARTY; INTER ALIA,
DUMISANI SITHOLE, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT (MP) AND CHAIR OF THE
PARLIAMENTARY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS; DR. TED
PEKANE, SOUTH AFRICAN REPRESENTATIVE TO THE PALESTINIAN
NATIONAL AUTHORITY; M. NTENTENI OF THE ANC WOMEN'S LEAGUE;
AMONG OTHERS. KASRILS SPOKE DURING SOUTH AFRICA'S FREEDOM
(NATIONAL) DAY CELEBRATIONS IN GAZA AND RAMALLAH. THE SAG
DELEGATION MET PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS, PRIME MINISTER ISMAIL
HANIYAH, PALESTINIAN NATIONAL AUTHORITY (PNA) MINISTERS AND
OFFICIALS, PALESTINIAN LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL (PLC) MEMBERS,
NGO'S, POLITICAL PARTY REPRESENTATIVES AND THINK TANKS.
KASRILS DELIVERED A SPEECH AT THE BIRZEIT UNIVERSITY ON THE
LESSONS OF SOUTH AFRICAS ANTI-APARTHEID STRUGGLE AND MADE
COMPARISONS BETWEEN THE SITUATION IN PALESTINE AND THE
APARTHEID ERA, CHARACTERIZING THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION POLICY
AS A FORM OF "MODERN DAY APARTHEID." (NOTE: EMBOFFS HAVE
HEARD THIS CHARACTERIZATION BEING MADE BY OTHER ANC COALITION
MEMBERS. END NOTE) HE VISITED THE ISRAELI SECURITY WALL
NEAR BETHLEHEM WITH DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTHI, MINISTER OF
COMMUNICATION, AND LAID A WREATH ON BEHALF OF THE SAG AND THE
PEOPLE OF SOUTH AFRICA AT THE RAMALLAH TOMB OF THE LATE
PRESIDENT YASSER ARAFAT. ABBAS RECEIVED KASRILS IN RAMALLAH
AND BRIEFED HIM ON DEVELOPMENTS IN THE PALESTINIAN TERRITORY
AND EFFORTS TO REVIVE THE PEACE PROCESS. PNA DEPUTY DIRECTOR
OF INTELLIGENCE, GENERAL TOUFIQ TIRAWI, SAID ABBAS AND
KASRILS DISCUSSED ISSUES OF MUTUAL COOPERATION, ADDING THAT
KASRILS EXPRESSED THE SAG'S SUPPORT FOR THE PNA. KASRILS
ALSO REPORTEDLY EXPRESSED THE SAG'S SUPPORT FOR "THE
PALESTINIAN PEOPLE, PRESIDENT ABBAS AND THE NATIONAL UNITY
GOVERNMENT."

3. (SBU) KASRILS' VISIT SPARKED AN INTENSE LOCAL CONTROVERSY
AFTER A PNA PRESS REPORT INDICATED THAT KASRILS FORMALLY
INVITED THE PALESTINIAN PRIME MINISTER, ISMAIL HANIYAH, TO A
RECIPROCAL OFFICIAL PRETORIA VISIT. THE SAG APPEARED TO
DISAVOW THIS INVITATION WHEN DFA SPOKESMAN, RONNI MAMOEPA,
NOTED THAT ONLY THE PRESIDENT OR FOREIGN MINSTER COULD INVITE
HANIYAH. PRO-ISRAELI JEWISH GROUPS IN SOUTH AFRICA SUCH AS
THE SOUTH AFRICAN JEWISH BOARD OF DEPUTIES (SAJBD) AND THE
SOUTH AFRICAN ZIONIST FEDERATION (SAZF) DENOUNCED THIS
INVITATION WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THEIR "NOT IN MY NAME"
CAMPAIGN. THEY ARGUED THE SAG SHOULD NOT ALLOW AN OFFICIAL
VISIT BY A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION THAT DID NOT RECOGNIZE THE
STATE OF ISRAEL OR ITS RIGHT TO EXIST. IN CONTRAST, LOCAL
ISLAMIC GROUPS ECHOED A LOCAL POLITICAL MANTRA THAT "SOUTH
AFRICAN POLITICAL HISTORY TEACHES THAT DIFFERENCE AND DISCORD
CAN BE OVERCOME THROUGH INTENSE NEGOTIATIONS." SOUTH
AFRICA'S JAMIATUL ULAMA SUPPORTED THE SAG'S EFFORTS TO PLAY A
"CONSTRUCTIVE ROLE" IN PALESTINE AND ENDORSED THE VISIT
INVITATION AS "ONE OF THE MOST CONSTRUCTIVE FOREIGN POLICY
ENGAGEMENTS THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT HAS EMBARKED ON IN
RECENT YEARS." THEY FURTHER CLAIMED THAT BY "DENYING THE
PALESTINIAN PRIME MINISTER THE RIGHT TO TRAVEL ON THE BEHALF
OF THE PEOPLE OF PALESTINE, THE SAJBD AND THE SAZF ARE
EFFECTIVELY PROVING THEMSELVES TO BE UNDERMINING THE SA


GOVERNMENT'S CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT IN PALESTINE."

4. (SBU) THIS CONTROVERSY WAS FURTHER STOKED BY THE 15 MAY
VISIT TO SOUTH AFRICA BY MOHAMMED NAZZAL, A MEMBER OF THE
HAMAS POLITBURO. NAZZAL VISITED ROBBEN ISLAND AS A GUEST OF
THE LOCAL GROUP, FRIENDS OF AL-AQSA. NAZZAL WAS IN SOUTH
AFRICA TO ATTEND A CONFERENCE COORDINATED BY THE FRIENDS OF
AL-AQSA COMMEMORATING THE 1948 OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE. WHEN
NAZZAL TOURED THE PRISON CELL FORMERLY OCCUPIED BY NELSON
MANDELA, HE SAID THAT "(MANDELA'S) SUFFERING WAS AN
INSPIRATION TO THE PEOPLE OF PALESTINE" AND DESCRIBED THE
LIBERATION MOVEMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA AS "A WORKABLE MODEL" FOR
THE LIBERATION OF PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES. KASRILS MET WITH
NAZZAL IN CAPE TOWN WHERE, ACCORDING TO ISMAIL COLLIER, THE
COORDINATOR OF THE FRIENDS OF AL-AQSA, HE EXPRESSED SUPPORT
FOR THE PALESTINIAN CAUSE AND CALLED FOR ENDING THE
OCCUPATION OF PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES. KASRILS ALSO
REPORTEDLY QUESTIONED THE PATRIOTISM AND LOYALTY OF SOUTH
AFRICAN GROUPS THAT DENOUNCED THE SAG'S RECOGNITION OF THE
ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE. HE
REPEATED PRESIDENT THABO MBEKI'S POSITION THAT THE "POLITICAL
BOYCOTT AGAINST HAMAS NEEDS TO BE BROKEN" AND THAT AN
OFFICIAL INVITATION TO VISIT SOUTH AFRICA WOULD BE EXTEND TO
PM HANIYAH.

5. (SBU) ANOTHER UPCOMING EVENT IS LIKELY TO ADD TO THIS
CONTROVERSY. SOUTH AFRICAN CIVIC GROUPS ANNOUNCED A SERIES
OF PROTESTS IN SUPPORT OF PALESTINIAN PEOPLE FOR 4-9 JUNE.
THIS PROPOSED WEEK OF PROTEST ACTION COINCIDES WITH OTHER
ACTIVITIES AROUND THE WORLD COMMEMORATING THE 40TH
ANNIVERSARY OF THE OCCUPATION BY ISRAEL OF THE WEST BANK,
GAZA, EAST JERUSALEM AND THE GOLAN HEIGHTS. ACTIVITIES IN
SOUTH AFRICA WILL BE COORDINATED BY THE END THE OCCUPATION
CAMPAIGN, MADE UP OF AROUND 20 CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS,
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS, SOLIDARITY ORGANIZATIONS, AND POLITICAL
PARTIES. THE COUNCIL OF SOUTH AFRICAN TRADE UNIONS (COSATU)
PRESIDENT WILLIE MADISHA SAID PROTEST ACTION AGAINST ISRAEL
"MUST BE SUSTAINED FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE" BEYOND THE WEEK
OF JUNE 4. HISTORICALLY, COSATU HAS SUPPORTED A CAMPAIGN OF
BOYCOTTS, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL "IN
SOLIDARITY WITH THE WORKERS AND PEOPLE OF PALESTINE." (NOTE:
COSATU IS A MAJOR COMPONENT OF THE ANC RULING COALITION ALONG
WITH THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF SOUTH AFRICA. END NOTE) THE
SOUTH AFRICAN COUNCIL OF CHURCHES (SACC) GENERAL SECRETARY
EDDIE MAKUE SAID HIS ORGANIZATION, TOGETHER WITH THE WORLD
COUNCIL OF CHURCHES AND THE CHRISTIAN COUNCIL OF SWEDEN
SUPPORTS THE 04 JUNE PROTESTS AND COMPARED THE OCCUPATION OF
PALESTINIAN TERRITORY WITH THE SYSTEM OF APARTHEID.

6. (SBU) THE ORGANIZERS OF THESE PRO-PALESTINIAN EVENTS HAVE
CALLED ON THE UNITED NATIONS AND ITS MEMBER STATES TO PROVIDE
INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION FOR THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE LIVING
UNDER OCCUPATION. IN THE WEEK OF 4 JUNE, LUNCH-TIME PICKETS
IN VARIOUS CENTERS AROUND THE COUNTRY WILL BE LAUNCHED,
INCLUDING A DEMONSTRATION BY MPS AND A CANDLE-LIGHT VIGIL
OUTSIDE THE US CONSULATE IN JOHANNESBURG. LEADERS OF THE ANC
HAVE ALSO CALLED FOR A PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE ON THE OCCUPATION
OF PALESTINIAN TERRITORY, AND MEMBERS OF THIS GROUP HAVE
CALLED FOR SOUTH AFRICANS TO BOYCOTT PRODUCTS FROM ISRAEL.
THE ANC, HOWEVER, WILL NOT JOIN THE BOYCOTT OF ISRAELI
PRODUCTS. PA MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, DR. NASSEREDDIN
AL-SHAER (WHO WAS RECENTLY DETAINED BY THE ISRAELI
GOVERNMENT) IS AMONG A DELEGATION OF THREE PALESTINIAN
LEGISLATORS INVITED TO SOUTH AFRICA TO PARTICIPATE IN THE
PROTESTS. SAG MINISTER OF EDUCATION, NALEDI PANDOR, HAS
INVITED AL-SHAER TO A MEETING. PALESTINIAN AMBASSADOR ALI
HALIMEH SAID IT WAS UNCERTAIN WHETHER THE DETAINED MINISTER
WOULD BE ABLE TO VISIT SOUTH AFRICA.

7. (SBU) IN ADDITION TO THESE PAST AND PLANNED EVENTS, THE
SAG, AT THE REQUEST OF THE UN, RECENTLY HOSTED THE UN
CONFERENCE OF AFRICAN SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINE. THAT EVENT
WAS ATTENDED BY BOTH PALESTINIAN AND ISRAELI POLITICIANS
(NOTE: ISRAELI POLITICAL PARTICIPATION WAS MINIMAL. END
NOTE), ACADEMICS AND DELEGATES FROM GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL
SOCIETY. ACCORDING TO FORMIN DLAMINI ZUMA, THE CONFERENCE
CALLED FOR THE "ENDING OF SANCTIONS AGAINST THE PALESTINIAN
AUTHORITY AND THE RESUMPTION OF DIALOG BETWEEN PALESTINE AND
ISRAEL. IN HER 28 MAY BUDGET ADDRESS TO PARLIAMENT IN CAPE
TOWN, DLAMINI ZUMA NOTED THAT RECENTLY, "VIOLENCE HAS AGAIN
ERUPTED BETWEEN PALESTINIANS AND ISRAELIS. WE CALL ON BOTH
PARTIES TO CEASE HOSTILITIES AND ALLOW FOR THE RESUMPTION OF


THE NEGOTIATION PROCESS."

8. (SBU) COMMENT: KASRILS HAS LONG BEEN IDENTIFIED WITH
PRO-PALESTINIAN AND ANTI-ISRAELI SENTIMENTS THAT ARE COMMONLY
HELD WITHIN THE ANC. THERE HAS BEEN A CLOSE, DECADES-LONG
ASSOCIATION BETWEEN THE PLO AND THE ANC
AS BOTH REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENTS IDENTIFIED WITH THE EACH
OTHER AND FOUND A SENSE OF IDENTITY AND COMMON CAUSE. YASSER
ARAFATS PHOTOGRAPH ADORNS THE WALLS OF THE ROBBEN ISLAND
VISITORS CENTER, ALONG WITH THAT OF NELSON MANDELA AND BILL
CLINTON. KASRILS, OF JEWISH HERITAGE HIMSELF, IS A LIGHTNING
ROD FOR PRO-ISRAEL GROUPS HERE, WHO HAVE DESCRIBED HIM AS "A
SELF-HATING JEW." THE REPORTED INTENTION OF THE SAG TO HOST
AN OFFICIAL PALESTINIAN VISIT IS SUPPORTED BY MANY ANC
MEMBERS AND SAG/DFA OFFICIALS, BUT NO FIRM DATE FOR A
RECIPROCAL PALESTINIAN VISIT HAS BEEN DETERMINED.
NEVERTHELESS, THE STORY ABOUT HANIYAH'S POSSIBLE VISIT HAS
MOVED TO THE BACK BURNER FOLLOWING THE MOST RECENT UPSURGE OF
VIOLENCE BETWEEN ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS, CAUSING THE
CONTROVERSY TO FADE IN THE LOCAL PRESS. SIMILAR INVITATIONS
IN RECENT YEARS FOR THE SENIOR MOST LEADERS OF HAMAS AND THE
PLO TO VISIT SOUTH AFRICA, WHILE SCORING POLITICAL POINTS
WITH SOUTH AFRICAN MUSLIM GROUPS, HAVE FAILED TO OCCUR.
"SCHEDULING CONFLICTS" ARE USUALLY THE EXPLANATIONS GIVEN FOR
THESE HIGH PROFILE NON-EVENTS, BUT POST BELIEVES THESE ARE
MERELY FACE-SAVING EXCUSES TO BACK AWAY FROM POTENTIALLY
EMBARRASSING VISITS.

TEITELBAUM

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