Foreign Ministry Opposed to Bophuthatswana Office in Israel
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) _ Israel does not recognize the South African ″homeland″ of Bophuthatswana, but cannot prevent it from flying its flag on its office building, a senior Israeli diplomat said today.
Foreign Ministry director-general David Kimche said in a newspaper interview his office had asked the police whether there was any law prohibiting Bophuthatswana from flying its flag over a new building housing its offices.
″It seems nothing can be done. But it has no diplomatic significance ... We don’t recognize this state just as we don’t recognize any of the homelands,″ Kimche was quoted as telling Haaretz newspaper, an independent daily.
″We have never recognized the homelands because they were formed by South Africa to implement the apartheid policy,″ Kimche was quoted as saying.
Bophuthatswana, which became independent from South Africa in June 1977, flies its flag from a plush $2.5 million office building next door to the British embassy on Tel Aviv’s seafront Hayarkon Street.
Haaretz said the glass-front building contains a suite for Bophuthatswana President Lucas Mangope, who has visited here several times. The paper said about 10 Israelis worked in the building and the office was headed by an Israeli businessman.
Israel has good ties with the Pretoria government and cites the large Jewish population in South Africa as one of the reasons for maintaining ties with that country.
But Israel fears recognition of the homelands could harm efforts to regain diplomatic footing in Africa, which it lost when some 30 countries severed ties with the Jewish state after the 1967 and 1973 Middle East wars. Only Zaire and Liberia have since renewed ties.