'Our struggle as well'

South Africa Limiting Formal Contact With Israel

Leadership to refrain from visiting Israel, says South African international relations minister: 'The last time I saw a map of Palestine, I couldn't go to sleep.'

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South African ministers are currently refraining from visiting Israel, the nation's International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane was quoted as stating on Friday by the Sunday Times.

While not requesting a cut in diplomatic relations, Palestinians have formally asked that South African leadership avoid "engaging with the [Israeli] regime," the Times reported the minister as saying.

Speaking at athe Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the minister stated that the nation is not currently planning to shut its Israeli embassy or sever diplomatic ties. Rather, she said, an agreement was reached whereupon S.A. would "slow down and curtail senior leadership contact with [Israel] until things begin to look better."

The minister said the South African struggle was not limited to its own borders, but was also concerned with international solidarity.

"The struggle of the people of Palestine is our struggle," she added, according to the report. "The last time I saw a map of Palestine, I couldn't go to sleep."

"It is just dots, smaller than those of the homelands, and that broke my heart."

South African Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, adressing the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in Johannesburg. November 1, 2013Credit: AFP