Citing cost, Netanyahu nixes trip to Mandela’s memorial
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Citing cost, Netanyahu nixes trip to Mandela’s memorial

'Unfortunately impossible' for prime minister to attend Tuesday' ceremony in South Africa, official says

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Former South African president Nelson Mandela in 2009. (photo credit: AP/Theana Calitz-Bilt, Pool)
Former South African president Nelson Mandela in 2009. (photo credit: AP/Theana Calitz-Bilt, Pool)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not fly to South Africa on Monday to pay his respects to the late South African civil rights legend Nelson Mandela, a government official told the Times of Israel on Sunday.

Earlier in the evening Netanyahu was “seriously considering going” to the memorial service in Johannesburg, but “when it was clear what the financial and logistic outlays” of a trip would entail, it was decided that it was “unfortunately impossible,” the official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the Prime Minister’s Office had no immediate statement regarding Netanyahu’s non-attendance.

President Shimon Peres is reportedly considering attending Mandela’s memorial service in Johannesburg on Tuesday, a ceremony which will be attended by at least 70 world leaders, including US President Barack Obama.

All living American presidents will be in attendance, as well as 26 members of Congress, according to NPR, quoting South African officials.

The former South African president, who died on Thursday after months of illness, will lie in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria from Wednesday to Friday. During these days, official memorial services will also be held in all provinces and regions.

On Sunday, December 15, Mandela will be laid to rest in a state funeral and burial at Qunu, in the Eastern Cape province where he was born.

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