Pretoria - South Africa on Friday expressed regret that Israel blocked a Palestinian envoy from attending Jacob Zuma's inauguration as president this weekend.

The foreign ministry said Israel had refused to allow Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas's envoy Abdul Rahim Mallouh to cross into Jordan, where he was scheduled to have flown to South Africa.

"South Africa regrets the decision of the Israeli government to deny the special envoy of Palestine a basic human right to travel to South Africa," Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said in a statement.

"The decision of the Israeli government underlines once more the urgent need for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state co-existing side by side with the Israeli state within secure borders," she added.

Zuma is to be sworn in Saturday in Pretoria, after leading the ruling African National Congress to a sweeping victory in elections two weeks ago.

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