Advertisement

Israel, under pressure from U.S. officials and American Jews...

By LOUIS TOSCANO

JERUSALEM -- Israel, under pressure from U.S. officials and American Jews to take a tougher stand against South Africa, adopted new anti-apartheid sanctions Wednesday affecting economic, scientific and cultural ties to Pretoria.

A Foreign Ministry official, who spoke on condition he not be identified, said the inner Cabinet adopted 10 measures recommended in May by a ministerial-level committee set up to review Israeli policy toward South Africa.

Advertisement

The measures, which followed Israel's decision in March to work toward ending defense ties with South Africa, deal with economic, cultural, scientific and sports ties between the two countries, and the plan also will affect travel by Israeli government officials to South Africa, the official said.

State-run Israel Radio reported the inner Cabinet decided to end investment by Israel in South Africa, accept no more loans from Pretoria and prohibit shipments of any kind from passing through Israel en route to and from South Africa.

Advertisement

Israeli officials will be prohibited from visiting South Africa, and the government will establish a fund to help South African blacks travel to Israel for seminars and other educational events, the radio reported.

Israel Television reported Wednesday night the government plans to freeze iron and steel imports at current levels, stop buying South African gold and oil and cancel various sports agreements. Tourism officials will refrain from encouraging visits to South Africa.

In 1985, trade between Israel and South Africa totaled $230 million, much of it in high-technology items -- a type of export to South Africa already banned by several Western nations.

Dr. Yossi Beilin, director-general of the Foreign Ministry, said the measures adopted Wednesday would ease pressure on Israel from U.S. officials.

'We have, and we have had, a problem in the United States, especially in Congress, because we have not taken any steps up until now,' Beilin told Israel Television. 'I believe that as a result of the steps we have decided today, there will be a significant change in attitude towards us.'

The policy committee reportedly made 13 recommendations to the inner Cabinet, made up of 10 of the most influential government ministers. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and five other ministers attended Wednesday's meeting.

Advertisement

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ehud Gol said South African Ambassador Anton Loubser was summoned to the Foreign Ministry Wednesday and told of the results of the discussions.

Gol refused to discuss the nature of the discussions, saying details would not be released until the government was sure South African officials had received a report from its ambassador and until various Israeli officials could be notified.

The Foreign Ministry official who requested anonymity said the steps taken were part of Israel's attempt to join with other countries in trying to pressure Pretoria into ending apartheid, its policy of racial segregation.

'We see this decision in the spirit of the policy in practice in the free world,' said the official. 'By reaching this decision, we have joined in a way the Western club in the steps taken against South Africa.'

'This was our committment -- that we would follow the West,' he said.

The official stressed Israel wants to pursue a policy of sanctions along the lines of steps adopted by the European Economic Community in 1986. Many anti-apartheid activists complained the EEC measures were not strong enough.

Israel has moved reluctantly to cut ties to Pretoria. On March 18, the government announced it would not renew any defense contracts with South Africa. Existing contracts have been allowed to expire on schedule.

Advertisement

The decision was designed to head off possible efforts in Congress to cut off or reduce U.S. aid to Israel. In a report to Congress issued only days after the Israeli announcement, the State Department identified Israel as being among a group of nations violating a U.N. ban on selling weapons to South Africa.

Under terms of U.S. sanction legislation adopted in 1986, President Reagan is required to halt all arms sales and military assistance to any country violating the U.N. ban.

Israel, which receives more U.S. aid than any other country, is one of the world's top 10 arms exporters. Officials have said Israel does not export arms to South Africa, but arms dealers licensed by the government do deal with Pretoria.

American Jewish leaders have also voiced concern that continued ties with South Africa will erode Israel's support in Congress, particularly in the wake of Israel's role in the Iran-Contra arms deal and the Jonathan Jay Pollard spy scandal.

Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, was sentenced to life in prison in March after he confessed he sold American military secrets to the Israelis.

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement