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South Africa: parliament votes to downgrade embassy in Israel

March 8, 2023 at 2:16 pm

More than a 100 ANC members protested in solidarity with people of Palestine at the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria May 25, 2021 in Pretoria, South Africa [Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images via Getty Images]

South Africa’s parliament voted yesterday to downgrade the country’s embassy in Israel due to the ongoing Israeli occupation and abuses of international human rights law in occupied Palestine.

The resolution to downgrade the embassy to a liaison office was proposed by the National Freedom Party (NFP), in alliance with the African National Congress, which holds 57.5 per cent of the seats in the South African parliament. According to Israel Hayom, 208 parliamentarians approved the decision, while 94 rejected it.

“We are ecstatic that the draft resolution to downgrade South Africa’s embassy in Israel has been passed by Parliament,” said the NFP. “While many will argue that this will impair our ability to act as a neutral mediator in the conflict, our party believes that neutrality is not an option in the face of oppression and human rights violations.”

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The NFP quoted Nelson Mandel’s famous line that, “Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestinians.” The parliamentary decision, it added, is a moment Nelson Mandela would be proud of. “The state of Israel was built through the displacement, murder and maiming of Palestinians. And to maintain its grip on power, it has instituted apartheid to control and manage Palestinians. As South Africans, we refuse to stand by while apartheid is being perpetrated again.”

For the past 27 years, ties between the Palestinians and South Africa have developed and remained strong, with Pretoria often providing support for the Palestinian cause and condemning Israeli transgressions on the world stage. Last year, South Africa urged the international community to hold Israel accountable for the inhumane conditions that Palestinians have been subjected to, and in 2021 it condemned the African Union’s (AU) granting of observer status to Tel Aviv, a move which was reversed last year.

South Africa (Mandela) stands with Palestine - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

South Africa stands with Palestine – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]