South Africans told 'don't go to Israel'

South Africans have been warned against visiting Israel by a government minister.

Speaking to the Mail and Guardian newspapers on Friday, the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ebrahim Ebrahim, said: "Because of the treatment and policies of Israel towards the Palestinian people, we strongly discourage South Africans from going there."

He added that he also discouraged "any South African company from having anything to do with strengthening the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories."

His comments were made after the cancellation of a visit to Israel by a delegation of local politicians from the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. The trip has been arranged by an Israel advocacy organisation but was cancelled after pressure from pro-Palestinian activists.

He reiterated his opinion in an interview with another South African newspaper on Sunday, telling City Press: "Israel is an occupier country which is oppressing Palestine, so it is not proper for South Africans to associate with Israel,

"We discourage people from going there except if it has to do with the peace process."

His comments come amid worsening relations between Israel and South Africa. Earlier this year the Trade and Industry Minister called for labelling of produce from the settlements.

Also in May, a scheduled talk by an Israeli envoy was cancelled at the last minute by the University of KwaZulu-Natal, following pressure from pro-Palestinian activists.

Last year, the University of Johannesburg voted for an academic boycott of Israel, despite longstanding ties with Israel's Ben Gurion University.

Last updated: 11:14am, August 13 2012