ANC commission agrees to downgrade SA embassy in Israel

The ANC international relations commission came to a unanimous agreement to approve a policy that will see the South African embassy in Israel being downgraded.

At the time of writing, the commission had not reported back to plenary at the party’s 54th elective conference. It was among those who deliberated until late in the afternoon.

But Faiez Jacobs, secretary of the ANC in the Western Cape, was inside the meeting. He expressed confidence that the policy would be approved.

“We are however very confident because there was a unanimous position. We were all clear we want strong and firm action, we expect nothing less than a downgrade,” said Jacobs.

In July, the ANC’s national policy conference had decided to adopt a resolution made by the ANC in the Western Cape to downgrade South Africa’s embassy in Israel, because of the expansion of Israeli settlements into Palestinian territories. That resolution would then be brought to the elective conference where it would have to be approved before it could be put to government.

The decision comes at a time when international attention is once against on Israel and Palestine following remarks by US President Donald Trump, who declared Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital.

The United Nations General Assembly is now set to vote for or against the withdrawal of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem in an “emergency meeting” on Thursday, after the US vetoed a vote it lost on the same issue at the UN Security Council.

Delegates from Hamas and the South African Board of Jewish Deputies (SABJD) attended the opening of the ANC’s elective conference. Hamas had previously released a statement saying that the resolution would take South African solidarity with Palestine to a “new level”, while the SABJD rejected the move saying it would have “dire consequences” for SA’s economy.

At its elective conference in Mangaung in 2012, the ANC had approved a policy to boycott Israel, but it was never implemented by government. 

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Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.

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