‘Downgrade the embassy in Israel’

Senior party members want the country’s mission lowered to a liaison office.

Former foreign affairs deputy minister and currently an international relations sub-committee MP, Ebrahim Ebrahim, is the latest senior ANC member to back a resolution by the ruling party to downgrade the South African embassy in Israel.

This comes after US President Donald Trump’s formal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital earlier this month.

His endorsement was followed by a wave of protests in the region – with South Africa condemning the move in solidarity against “apartheid Israel”.

Ebrahim said in the upcoming International Relations Commission meeting he would be backing the resolution by ANC branches for the immediate and unconditional downgrade of the embassy to a liaison office.

“The resolution is meant to send a clear message to Israel that its violations of international law are unacceptable,” said Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa (BDSSA).

Ebrahim further dismissed the pro-Israel argument that it will hurt Palestinians, explaining that he had recently met with the envoy of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Shaath, who said that “when Venezuela [for example] shut down their embassy in Israel, they were not asked to shut down their embassy in Ramallah”.

Ebrahim’s announcement follows a decision to discuss a resolution on Israel at the ANC’s current national elective conference – where leaders from Hamas attended as guests.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) said it believed Iraelis and Palestinians had to come together to the negotiation table to find a peaceful solution to this “tragic conflict”.

“Our plea to world leaders, including our own government, is to actively put pressure on both sides to do so,” its national director Wendy Kahn said.

“We believe that the South African government, now more than ever, has a unique role to play in facilitating this constructive dialogue.”

Jewish leader Rabbi Dovid Hazdan said downgrading the embassy would “have [a] devastating and far-reaching impact on Jewish life in South Africa”.

– yadhanaj@citizen.co.za

ANC calls for downgrading SA Embassy in Israel over Palestine conflict

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