South African foreign minister Lindiwe Sisulu has announced that the recall of the SA Ambassador to Israel, and the downgrading of the embassy, was due to take place anyway, on the instructions of the ANC.
She told a media briefing, Tuesday, that the timing of the implementation of the decision, with Monday’s recall of the Ambassador, was in response to the recent violence in Gaza.
“The ANC ordered us to downgrade the Embassy, and we were mulling over what to do,” she said.
“To support the oppressed people of Palestine, we are to downgrade the Embassy to a liaison office.
“We had not worked out the modalities until this (latest violence) happened. We have been given instructions from the ANC.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Luwellyn Landers condemned the US decision to move its Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The opening of the new US Embassy took place on Monday.
“The US has removed itself as an honest broker between Israel and Palestine,” he said. “This is an unfortunate decision and we are seeing the results.
“To add insult to injury they chose to move the Embassy on what the Palestinians regard as almost a holy day.”
Many in the Jewish community in South Africa have expressed regret that the downgrading of diplomatic ties with Israel will neuter SA’s influence to work for peace in the Middle East.
“We would like to reach out to the Jewish community to make them understand that only by working together can we solve the problems of the Palestinian people,” said Landers.
“We want to sit down and explain that 55 (Palestinian) people being dead is unacceptable. We want them to join us in condemning this and finding a solution for the people of Palestine.
“Politicians change; there is a new administration in Israel, and we were not able to continue.
“Wherever it is possible to bring peace, we will avail ourselves of the opportunity to bring peace.”
In another development, Sisulu condemned recent efforts by Afriforum to drum up overseas support for white farmers in SA.
“Afriforum has the right to lobby for whatever cause they wish to lobby for – to the US or anywhere,” she said.
“We find it offensive when they exaggerate the situation. Their stories are blatantly false.
“We have over and over indicated that the issue of land is in our constitution, it has taken a long time, as we have been very cautious. The willing buyer and willing seller (formula) hasn’t worked.
“We have come to this decision to put the issue of land in Parliament. Everyone will get the opportunity to attend.”