South Africa to Shut Israel Embassy

In a statement, the African National Congress (ANC) also welcomed a call from President Cyril Ramaphosa for the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel for war crimes…reports Asian Lite News

South Africa’s ruling party has said it will support a parliamentary motion calling for the Israeli embassy in South Africa to be closed.

In a statement on Thursday, the African National Congress (ANC) also welcomed a call from President Cyril Ramaphosa for the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel for war crimes.

“Given the unfolding atrocities in occupied Palestine, the African National Congress will agree to a parliamentary motion which calls upon the government to close the Israeli embassy in South Africa and suspend all diplomatic relations with Israel until it agrees to a ceasefire,” the statement said.

The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) will propose the motion later on Thursday, also calling for the suspension of all diplomatic relations with Israel in solidarity with the Palestinian people amid Israel’s war on Gaza. The motion will be voted on at a later date.

The EFF’s motion is largely symbolic as it will be up to Ramaphosa’s government whether to implement it. But ANC leader Ramaphosa and senior foreign ministry officials have been vocal in their criticism of Israel’s leadership during its military campaign in Gaza, calling on the ICC to investigate them for potential war crimes.

Pretoria’s strong support for Palestine dates back decades to the fight against apartheid in South Africa, which the ANC was at the forefront of. The country likens the plight of Palestinians to that of Black South Africans under white minority rule, with former President Nelson Mandela saying in 1997: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

“As South Africa, we have accordingly, together with many other countries across the world, referred this whole Israeli government action to the International Criminal Court,” Ramaphosa said on Wednesday during a state visit to Qatar.

“We have put through a referral because we believe that war crimes are being committed there. And of course, we do not condone the actions that were taken by Hamas earlier, but similarly, we condemn the actions that are currently underway and believe that they warrant an investigation by the ICC,” he added.

Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas that governs Gaza have been at war for more than a month. Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people. Israel’s air and ground offensive has killed more than 11,300 Palestinians in Gaza.

‘World must urge Israel to stop crime against humanity’

The world has seen enough of the tragedy in Gaza and it is time for countries to use their influence over Israel to put a stop to “this real crime against humanity”, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor has said.

South Africa was one of the few countries that cut ties with Israel in response to its attack on the Gaza Strip.

Pandor said that her government may refer Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) as it continues its assault on Gaza. “We are appalled at how this horror and tragedy that is unfolding continues to get worse and worse. I think the world has seen enough, and it is time for the most powerful in the world to put a stop to this horror that Israel is unfolding against the people of Palestine,” she said.

“It is only countries that have influence over Israel who can stop this real crime against humanity that we are seeing right before our eyes.”

The Palestinian people experience conditions similar to those in apartheid South Africa, she added.

South Africa has been outspoken about the plight of Palestinians and recalled its diplomats from Israel this month, as the death toll from Israel’s bombardment of Gaza continues to climb.

Palestinian authorities have said that more than 12,000 people in Gaza, more than a third of them children, have been killed since Israel began its attack on the Gaza Strip in retaliation for an attack by Hamas that Israeli authorities say killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

While that attack by Hamas was widely condemned, Israel’s response has garnered criticism as a campaign of relentless air strikes has wiped out entire neighbourhoods and as an Israeli siege chokes off access to necessities such as food, fuel and electricity for Gaza’s 2.3 million residents.

The United Nations has said that about 70 percent of people in Gaza have been displaced, with few options for safe haven as Israeli strikes pound every corner of the Strip, including areas that Israel told Palestinians they should relocate to in order to avoid the fighting.

“We would have anticipated that the ICC would react much earlier because thousands of people have been mowed down,” Pandor said. “And these are innocent Palestinian people who have suffered decades of harassment and occupation.”

That occupation, she said, also has “very, very clear similarities,” to some of the practices that defined apartheid South Africa.

“We know people cannot own property, [and] that property can be seized without any compensation, which is what we experienced in our own country. People have to carry identity documents that reflect your ethnicity rather than citizenship. All of this is part of the apartheid feature,” Pandor said.

“So, there can be no denial that the corollary between the conduct of the Israeli state against the people of Palestine is so closely aligned to the apartheid conduct.”

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