South Africa's ruling ANC party moves to downgrade ties with Israel

Javier Stokes
December 22, 2017

The African National Congress said late Wednesday that delegates to a national party meeting endorsed the proposal to the government for "an immediate and unconditional downgrade" of the embassy in Tel Aviv.

The move comes amid a barrage of global backlash since US President Donald Trump's highly-contested decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel which has triggered United Nations action.

"We question the motives behind this discriminatory decision that would effectively prevent South Africa from playing any mediatory role in bringing about peace or dialogue between Israel and Palestine", the Jewish Board of Deputies said in a statement.

"Coming to the [54th national] conference, we found unity in our solidarity with the Palestinians and support for such forms of sanctions against Israel", ANC North West spokesperson Gerald Modise told News24.

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Applauded by Hamas, the ANC has approved a resolution to downgrade the country's embassy in Israel.

It was reportedly behind a failed attempt to cancel the Africa-Israel Summit held in October.

The Palestinian ambassador to South Africa Hashem Dajani welcomed the ANC move, describing it as "an important decision". It is also a downgrade of support for the local Jewish community and a folded hand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "A downgrade will negatively affect the South African economy by jeopardizing (to name but a few) trade, tourism, access to hi tech and water technology", the groups said. He added that keeping relations with Israel had enabled South Africa to directly voice its objections to the Israeli government, as well as maintain a diplomatic office in the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

"We said we would buy it when we have money without benefiting the speculators", he said.

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