Israel has denied an entry visa to the South African Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, who was scheduled to visit Birzeit University in the West Bank.
According to a senior official in Jerusalem, the minister’s visa was turned down because he planned to directly travel to the West Bank, rather than visiting Israel, and also due to his radically anti-Israel views, Haaretz reported.
“The Israeli government is trying by all means to hide their atrocities against the Palestinian people, and minimize the number of people who can actually see what is happening on the ground,” Nzimande told South Africa’s Independent Media on Thursday.
Nzimande is a member of the South African Communist Party and serves in the governing African National Congress coalition. In the past, he has supported an academic boycott of Israel and has called for the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador to South Africa.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman slammed South Africa’s response to Israel’s visa move, noting the recent “violent and racist” South African government attacks against African migrants in Johannesburg.
“The wild attacks by the South African Community Party against Israel following our refusal to allow the higher education minister to pass through Israel en route to the Palestinian Authority is hypocrisy,” Lieberman said on his Facebook page. “These events and others prove once again that South Africa remains a country with serious problems of racism and violence.”
Lieberman added, “That’s why it would behoove the South African government and the Communist Party to stop preaching morality and attacking Israel, which is a great democracy that is exceptionally coping with threats and terrorist elements while making maximal effort to preserve human rights and international norms of behavior.”