October 19, 2015 South Africa’s ruling party on Sunday hosted a senior delegation of Hamas leaders in Pretoria, drawing bitter condemnations from the Israeli government and local Jewish groups.
The delegation, which was still in South Africa on Monday afternoon, is headed by the leader of Hamas’s political bureau, Khaled Mashaal. It got a friendly reception Sunday In Johannesburg from senior officials of the African National Congress, including President Jacob Zuma, in what ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe termed an example of ‘party to party relations.’
The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem expressed ‘shock and outrage,’ and on Monday summoned South Africa’s deputy ambassador ‘for a reprimand,’ ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said.
The ANC’s invitation to Hamas ‘provided a tailwind for terrorism and blatantly and crudely ignored the position of the international community, which considers Hamas a terror organization,’ Nahshon fumed.
The Hamas delegation, which also included Mashaal’s deputy Moussa Abu Marzouk, was welcomed at the airport by the ANC’s deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, according to a senior ANC official. ‘It is to demonstrate that the African National Congress is willing to talk to all people who are positive in terms of their attainment of self-determination and nationhood in Palestine,’ the official told SABC News.
Mantashe, the ANC secretary-general, said Monday that his party has signed a “letter of intent” with Hamas. “We have an intention of building a long-lasting relationship,” he said at a press conference with Mashaal, calling the delegation’s visit “very important.”
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It should be noted that there is a long history of Hamas activities in South Africa including those of the Al-Aqsa Foundation that in 2013 had its banking facilities with two South African banks suspended over concerns that it was helping to fund Hamas. In addition, a memo purporting to be a 1998 briefing document prepared for the South African President Thabo Mbeki has long been posted on the Internet and describes the International Islamic Federation Of Student Organizations (IIFSO)mas working closely with Hamas:
According to information HAMAS members in South Africa does not recognise the MUSLIM YOUTH MOVEMENT (MYM) as the official organ representing the Muslim youth in South Africa. HAMAS is of the opinion that the MYM have lost their control of the youths representation. Based upon this situation HAMAS, with the help of the INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC FEDERATION OF STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS (IIFSO) are busy to establish institutions for the Muslim youth in South Africa to take over the role of the MYM. These youth centres are implemented in Pretoria and Cape Town.
The memo also identifies an individual called Wahdan Abu Ahmed KHUNFUR who it says was a Trustee of the Al Aqsa Foundation in South Africa as well as a Hamas contact. KHUNFUR is believed to be the same individual as Waddah Khanfar, the former General Manager of Al-Jazeera and now one of the heads of the new Huffington Post Arabic edition.
A US court filing by federal prosecutors provides detail on the role of Abu Marzook as former leader of the US Muslim Brotherhood and its Palestinian Committee.