National Assembly to vote on motion to downgrade South African embassy in Israel

The violence has been described as the worst since the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict. (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)

The violence has been described as the worst since the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict. (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)

The National Freedom Party (NFP) has submitted a motion to the National Assembly in Parliament to allow the South African embassy in Israel be downgraded to a liaison office.

The motion comes days after the killing of at least 60 Palestinians in the past four days by Israeli soldiers at the Gaza border. The violence has been described as the worst since the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict.

The Palestinians were rallying against the opening of the United States embassy in Jerusalem, as well as their right to return to land which Israel has occupied.

NFP leader Ahmed Shaik Emam said on Thursday that the National Assembly would vote on the motion at the next available sitting of the House.

“The endless barbaric acts of terrorism perpetuated against the Palestinians by the apartheid Israel regime, the maaa murder of innocent Palestinians including women and children are done with absolute impunity,” Emam said.

“Countries, including South Africa, have been far too patient while people are killed and international law is ignored.”

At its 54th national conference in December 2017, the ANC adopted a resolution to downgrade the South African embassy in Israel to a liaison after its Western Cape provincial leadership recommended that the party do so.

The declaration of the ANC’s national conference reads: “Delegates endorsed the proposal that we must give practical support to the oppressed people of Palestine and resolved on an immediate and unconditional downgrade of the SA embassy in Israel to a Liaison Office.”

Emam said that the motion the NFP submitted to Parliament includes the near exact words used by the ANC. It reads: “To give practical support to the oppressed people of Palestine we resolve on an immediate and unconditional downgrade of the SA embassy in Israel to a liason office”.

South Africa’s ambassador to Israel has already been recalled and non-governmental organisations, such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, is calling on government to sever all diplomatic ties with Israel.

The NFP said that the motion is the “first step” towards taking action that will bring peace for Palestinians. 

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography. Read more from Ra'eesa Pather

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