Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance on Monday responded to criticism from the Palestinian embassy in South Africa over DA leader Mmusi Maimane's visit to the region by releasing a paper trail of exchanges with the Palestinian Authority presidency, and denying claims that he had been shunned by local officials.
DA spokeswoman Phumzile van Damme said the party had dealt directly with the office of President Mahmoud Abbas in setting up a meeting between him and Maimane.
1. The statement released today by the Embassy of the Palestinian Authority & hurriedly echoed by the ANC is simply inaccurate & unfortunate
— Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) January 16, 2017
"The DA had a confirmed meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mr Mahmoud Abbas, and had informed South Africa’s Embassy in Ramallah of the meeting, and had invited South Africa’s ambassador to join the meeting. This is incontrovertible," she said.
No, the Embassy said they contacted the Foreign Affairs Ministry to check, not the Presidency. https://t.co/qYoemtu41r
— Phumzile Van Damme (@zilevandamme) January 16, 2017
According to the DA, the meeting was cancelled because of a scheduling conflict on Mahmoud's side and Van Damme said the party was not aware of any directive to Palestinian officials not to meet with Maimane.
Read the full statement from the DA here
"However, it is revealing that the Embassy’s statement says that there was an instruction issued not to meet with the DA. We will certainly be following up with them to ascertain exactly who issued this instruction, as it was not conveyed to us at any point," she said.
To the embassy's complaint that it was not informed of Maimane's visit to the Palestinian Territories, Van Damme said this was normal as South Africans do not need a visa. She said it appeared that the Palestinian embassy had not been briefed properly by their own government and it was regrettable that it issued a "false public statement" without conferring with the party or with its own principals.
The DA said Maimane had in fact met with Palestinian business leaders and rights activists and visted refugees in Ramallah.
The week-long visit has angered the South African government and ruling party, which suggested it made a mockery of the DA's official position of supporting a two state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In the correspondence with Abass's office, the DA said the aim of the visit was develop economic ties with Israeli and Palestinian entities, to appraise the DA of systems it could implement in South African municipalities under its control, and to gain a greater understanding of both nations with a view understanding how it could advance peace in the region.