The Complex Twists and Turns of the Israel-South Africa Relations


Luiza Khlebnikova


The purpose of this article is to reveal the features of relations between Israel and South Africa in a historical retrospective with a focus on the South African Jewish community that is still the largest in the region. In contrast to relations with other African states, that went through stages from the “honeymoon” in the 1960s, the break in the early 1970s, to the new rapprochement in the 1990s – early 2000s, the interactions between Israel and South Africa had a completely different periodization. At first, the Israeli government did not develop contacts with the apartheid regime, but since the mid-1970s till the end of the 1980s, the governments were involved in a secret military cooperation. Since the early 1990s, Israel and South Africa began to build relations in a completely different international context. One of the main issues provoking tensions between the governments is the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The African National Congress has historically had close ties with the Palestine Liberation Organization, highlighting the fight against oppression as a common one. As part of its “return to Africa”, the Israeli government cannot ignore such a powerful player in the region as Pretoria. With mutual interests, the two sides can have a constructive dialogue, but the lack of progress in the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will negatively affect the nature of their interaction. The author of this paper continues a series of works on the study of relations between Israel and African countries with the aim of filling the existing niche in Russian historiography.


Israel, South Africa, the South African Jews, Jewish Diaspora, Israel’s African policy




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