Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman slammed the South African Communist Party on Friday after it criticized the Israel government for denying a South African minister a visa to travel to the Palestinian territories.
Lieberman said that the statements made by the South African party were "hypocritical", given a number of recent events against foreigners in South Africa which he described as "racist".
Following Israel's refusal to grant the South African Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande a visa to enter the Palestinian territories, the South African Communist Party issued a statement in which it said it "condemns in strongest terms possible, the apartheid Israeli regime`s decision."
The party further said that "The reason given for refusal to grant Cde Nzimande the visa is that he 'had criticized the Israeli government'. As the SACP we will not allow any foreign government to decide for us what to think, say and do.
"The despotic decision by the Israeli government is a declaration of diplomatic aggression on our government…The SACP calls on our government to reciprocate and reject Israeli requests for visits to South Africa."
The party added that it intends to "further intensify its campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel."
Following the announcement made by the South African party, Lieberman said: "It was only a few days ago when a violent, racist and harsh attack was directed against immigrants in Johannesburg…during these riots, the South African police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades against other immigrants from neighboring African countries. We all remember the mass killings carried out by the South African police at the Platinum Mine three years ago."
"These events and others have proven repeatedly that South Africa has remained a country where there are serious problems of racism and violence.
"Therefore," he added, "the South African government and the Communist Party should stop preaching and attacking Israel, which is a glorious democracy that exceptionally handles threats and terrorist elements while maintaining human rights and international codes of conduct."
"It is no surprise that the members of the Communist Party prefer the Palestinians to Israel," the foreign minister stated, calling it "a case of like attracts like."
Seven people have died this month in anti-immigrant violence in South Africa that has mainly targeted migrants from other African nations, according to South African officials. After two weeks of turmoil in specific areas of Johannesburg and Durban, the unrest has declined.
More than 100 humanitarian groups have urged the African Union's human rights body to ensure that South Africa take "concrete steps" to prevent further attacks on immigrants.
The group of organizations asked the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights to appeal to the South African government to protect foreigners living in the country. In the wake of the violence, a few thousand migrants have chosen to return home.
"The solution to the violence should not be to repatriate all foreign nationals, but to ensure an environment in the country in which their rights are protected," said an open letter signed by 129 groups that represent organizations from a number of African countries. They also urged South Africa to set up special courts to deal with the cases of attacks against immigrants and foreign-owned shops.
Associated Press contributed to this report.