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Wiesenthal Center: South Africa Invitation To Hamas PM Weakens Hope For Peace Process

May 7, 2007

WIESENTHAL CENTER: SOUTH AFRICA INVITATION TO HAMAS PM WEAKENS HOPE FOR PEACE PROCESS

The Simon Wiesenthal Center today blasted the South African government for extending an invitation for a state visit to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. If he accepts, South Africa would be the first non-Muslim country to welcome the head of the Hamas-led government.

“It is outrageous that South African government, which came to power under the rules of democracy and inclusion should choose to invite Haniyeh,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center. “The Hamas-led Palestinian Authority’s record of continued terrorism and its refusal to recognize the State of Israel has currently led to the international community’s boycott of the government. Pretoria’s move will weaken President Abbas and international efforts to restart the Middle East peace process,” Cooper added.

Cooper noted the South African invitation was extended by Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils, himself a Jew. Kasrils has been a vocal critic of Israel and has called for a lift of the international boycott.

“It seems to be in vogue whether in Tehran or Gaza that anti-Zionist Jews are trotted out to put a fig leaf over the genocidal ambitions of tyrants and terrorists,” Rabbi Cooper said, adding that, “Mr. Kasrils would do well to re-read last month’s call for genocide by Sheik Ahmed Bahr, the acting Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council.”  In a mosque in Sudan last month, Bahr called for the “annihilation of Jews and Americans.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe.

For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036.