The leader of the Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane has defied President Jacob Zuma’s order, forbidding senior officials in the country from visiting Isreal.
The DA leader arrived in Israel earlier this week on what officials termed ‘a private visit focused on fostering business ties’.
Mmusi flew to Isreal in the company of three senior DA lawmakers, including Michael Bagraim, a former chair and president of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies.
The controversial visit came to light on Thursday when the opposition wrote on Twitter that he was in Israel and Palestine, and that two-state solution needed to be pursued.
He also shared a screenshot of how he was going to be charged more for data roaming costs in Israel than in Palestine.
Fascinating to be in Israel and Palestine. 2 state solution is still what we must pursue. Listening, learning. pic.twitter.com/Ld9BKQtI8L
— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) January 12, 2017
President Zuma during the 105th ANC birthday celebration speech in Orlando Stadium, on Sunday, January, earlier reiterated ANC’s unalloyed support and solidarity and support for the “just cause” of the people of Palestine; but warned SA officials not to step on their shores.
“The people of Palestine continue to suffer in their rightful quest for self-determination and the ANC pledges its ongoing solidarity and support for their just cause,” Zuma said on Sunday.
Throwing light on the visit – which conflicts government’s longstanding travel directive, Maimane’s spokesperson, Mabine Seabe, told reporters the trip to Israel and Palestine was “mainly private and religious”.
He said the leader of the blue party was primarily in Isreal to “listen and learn about the conflict and the potential leadership role that South Africa could play”.
Meanwhile, BuzzSouthAfrica gathered that so far, Maimane has met with Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and the Leader of the Opposition, Bougie Herzog.
His meeting with the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mr Mahmoud Abbas, was rescheduled due to a ‘scheduling conflict’. Nonetheless, Maimane met with Palestinian officials.
Israeli local media reported that his visit was earlier mentioned on the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s monthly list of official visits. And that Maimane and the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem and the South African Embassy in Tel Aviv all declined to speak further on the controversial visit.
Maimane’s visit receieved backslashes and criticism from many social media users. Most users slammed him for defying Zuma’s order while others found no fault on his visit to ‘Apartheid Israel leader Netanyahu’.
Here are some reactions:
Maimane meets Apartheid Israel leader Netanyahu
Should've taken the old flag to match with Israel's apartheid flag pic.twitter.com/Zrv1oAqTWK
— My Surname is Khan™ (@ejaz_k) January 12, 2017
— Bo Mbindwane (@mbindwane) January 12, 2017
— The Real Spiderman (@maleanaposts) January 12, 2017