Middle East, Africa

South African parliament debates proposed closure of Israeli Embassy

Governing African National Congress with majority in parliament says it will support motion

Hassan Isilow  | 16.11.2023 - Update : 16.11.2023
South African parliament debates proposed closure of Israeli Embassy File Photo


South African lawmakers Thursday held a heated debate on the proposed closure of the Israeli Embassy in the country and suspension of diplomatic relations.

The motion brought by the third largest opposition party, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) divided the house with the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and a few others opposing the motion.

“Zionism does not equal to Jewishness or Judaism. No one must manipulate scriptures in the bible or Torah to promote ethnic cleansing or racism and mass murder of people,’’ EFF leader Julius Malema told the virtual parliamentary debate.

“There are no special human beings with the right to massacre others to benefit from stolen land,” Malema said.

He said South Africa cannot have relations with a country that "murders" women and children.

He urged members of parliament to support his motion to shut down the Israeli Embassy in the capital Pretoria and end diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv.

Governing ANC to back Motion

The governing African National Congress (ANC), which has the highest number of legislators in the 400-seat national assembly, said it will support the EFF’s motion to shut down the Israeli Embassy and suspend diplomatic relations until Israel agrees to a cease-fire.

South Africa recently withdrew all its diplomats from Tel Aviv for consultation over Israel’s assault in Gaza.

“Genocide under the watch of the international community cannot be tolerated. Another holocaust in the history of humankind is not acceptable,” Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni told reporters earlier this month.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) opposed the motion, with Louise Powell, the shadow international relations and cooperation minister, saying: “Honourable Members, in the face of this brutal war, the political opportunism on display by both the ANC and the EFF is indicative of their inherent moral bankruptcy.”

She claimed the ANC has "failed" to build a prosperous South Africa and is now looking for an opportunity to deepen divisions from which they can score "cheap political points."

Dirk Kotze, a professor of politics at the University of South Africa, told Anadolu that the ANC has had historical links with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) since the time of the late anti-apartheid hero and first Black South African President Nelson Mandela.

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