SA going ahead with downgrade of Israel embassy, says Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa (PHOTO: SA Breaking News).
‘Won’t further peace efforts’ — SA Jewish Board of Deputies

Originally published in Jerusalem Post

President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed that South Africa is going full steam ahead with its process of downgrading its embassy in Israel to a liaisons office.

A year ago, the country’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), passed a resolution at its National Policy Conference to downgrade the status of the South African Embassy in Israel to a liaison office, “in order to give our practical expression to the oppressed people of Palestine.”

At the time, the ANC said, “The downgrade of the South African Embassy in Israel will send a clear message to Israel that there is a price to pay for its human rights abuses and violations of international law.”

Ramaphosa made the comments late last week following an address in the country’s Parliament. He was asked by Parliament Member Ahmed Shaik Emam about the progress of downgrading the embassy and why it was taking so long to implement to the decision.

This led to a discussion over the matter which lasted for nearly 15 minutes in the country’s parliament.

“We are going to be downgrading, that is a decision that you must be rest assured will be taken,” he said. “As such, the South African government remains seized with the modalities of downgrading the South African embassy in Israel, and we will communicate once cabinet has fully finalised on this matter.”

While addressing the matter, Ramaphosa said that in “implementing this resolution, we are mindful of South Africa’s responsibility to continue engaging with all parties to the conflict to see where we would be able to provide assistance, he continued, to soft applause by Parliament members.

“Our approach is also informed by an appreciation of the constructive role that South Africa is being called upon to play in the quest for peace in the Middle East,” he continued.

At the time, the ANC said, “The downgrade of the South African Embassy in Israel will send a clear message to Israel that there is a price to pay for its human rights abuses and violations of international law.”

The South African president made it clear that the country supports “the achievement of a Palestinian state alongside the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security with its neighbors.”

Asked by a second MP whether or not he believed in the two-state solution and was concerned that downgrading the embassy would be seen as taking sides, Ramaphosa said that as long as Palestinian state is not in place “we will adopt the stance we have taken,” he reiterated referring to the downgrade.

While the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) praised and supported Ramaphosa’s reiteration that the country is committed “to playing a constructive role in Middle East peace efforts and the government’s continued support of the right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and security with its neighbours” it said it was “both disappointed and perplexed” over the fact that Ramaphosa had “indicated that his government nevertheless intended giving effect to an ANC resolution to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel”.

“This indeed contradicted Mr Ramaphosa’s own observation that in order for South Africa to see where it might be able to provide assistance, it needed to continue engaging with all parties to the conflict,” the SAJBD said in a statement.

The SAJBD said it believes that downgrading South Africa’s embassy in Israel “would do nothing to further peace efforts in the region, but instead would significantly reduce this country’s ability to play any kind of role in furthering those aims.”

“We urge the South African government to reconsider its intention of implementing the downgrade,” the Jewish organisation said, “and instead look for ways to re-engage with all parties to the dispute with a view to helping them to achieve a peaceful resolution.”

The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement in South Africa said that it welcomes the comments and confirmation by the president to downgrade the embassy.

7 Comments

  1. A sad day for SA as a whole. The nation will pay dearly for rejecting the God of Israel. If you are not for them, then you are against Him.

    This decision is based on deception, hatred and the lack of understanding. The ANC’s policies is it’s own and does not speak for the majority of SA. But they are the ruling party and thus represents this decision on behalf of SA.

    SA is now choosing the curse rather than the blessing…people that love death is running this country.

  2. Can the people, the voters not have a say in thos unilateral decision of the ANC?

    • Rona van Niekerk

      We can vote on May 8th. Clearly, in the light of the other articles in this week’s Gateway News, Christians need to sit up and consider why, in a country allegedly 80% Christian, a Godly party such as the ACDP only has 3 members in Parliament. Yet the impact that they make for Christian values is greater than their small numbers. South Africans need to wake up and prayerfully decide who they are going to vote for. It’s about light versus darkness now, and now is the hour

  3. I agree with Regardt. We, as a country, will pay a price for such an action.

  4. We have to go to the heavenly court and declare God the Father, Jesus the Son and Holy Spirit as the only God over South Africa.We stand in the gap for SA according to the Word of Zacharia chapter 1.
    We choose the blessings of Deut.28 for all the nations in SA, but they have to choose for or against God. Mr Ramaphosa should be careful not to become the next faraoh.

  5. How foolish South African political leaders are and some of the public in disregarding the fact that the Jewish and Palestinian conflict can never be solved peacefully.

  6. Geneis 12 vs 2 and 3 is God’s unequivocal promise to bless Abraham,s descendants through Isaac and beyond. History is a litany of broken nations that have set themselves up against the Jewish people in fulfillment of the message of those verses. I cannot see, apart from Islamic pressure, why South Africa would set themselves up for the same result. This is not a “Christian” decision but an Islamic decision.