Israel of possible sanctions
By John Battersby
April 05 2002
The South African government summoned Israeli ambassador Tova Herzl
to the Union Buildings on Friday to call on the Israeli government
to immediately implement a unanimous United Nations resolution calling
on Israel to declare a ceasefire in the 20-month old conflict.
The message contained an indirect but unprecedented warning about
the possible imposition of sanctions against the Jewish state. There
was a strong call for sanctions from Arab states at the Arab summit
in Beirut last weekend.
Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad told the Israeli ambassador:
"The Arab Group this week conveyed to the South African government
that the current military offensive by Israel is leading to a situation
where there is serious talk of imposing sanctions against Israel."
The South African gesture, which amounts to a strong protest, is
in line with growing international pressure on Israel to pull its
tanks and artillery from almost every major West Bank town.
Although the UN resolution was passed a week ago it was followed
on Friday by another unanimous resolution making it obligatory in
terms of international law for Israel to carry out the contents
of the earlier decree.
Pahad also demanded that Israel allow international diplomatic
representatives to enter the besieged West Bank town of Ramallah
and have immediate access to their offices.
Pahad also welcomed the statement on Thursday by United States
President George Bush calling on Israel to withdraw its forces from
Palestinian towns, and for the Israelis to respect basic human rights.
However, Bush also chided Palestine Liberation Organisation chairman
Yasser Arafat for failing to curb Islamist radicals responsible
for recent suicide bomb attacks.