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PACBI-Ties with Israel open to debate, says Pahad

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Boyd Webb | Cape Times | July 17, 2006

Ties with Israel open to debate, says Pahad

Pretoria: While the government is not entertaining thoughts of cutting diplomatic ties with Israel or imposing sanctions, it is open to debate on the issue, says Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad.

Muslim groups and trade unions called last week for the government to cut ties with the Jewish state and impose a trade boycott.

Palestinian activist and former hijacker Leila Khaled arrives in South Africa today with a similar message urging the government to impose sanctions on Israel.

Pahad said: "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 equivocal is our support for the Palestinians and our opposition to the escalation of tension in the Gaza as well as in Lebanon."

Muslim Youth Movement president Na'eem Jeenah said a meeting involving the Muslim Judicial Council, 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," Jeenah said.

Meanwhile, about 20 South Africans trapped in Lebanon were being assisted by foreign affairs to cross over to Syria, a Sunday paper said. Details could not be confirmed yesterday.

Posted on 17-07-2006

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