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Johannesburg - Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim embarrassed the ANC when he released a statement criticising Israel's role in the recent Gaza conflict, the SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) said on Monday.
“It was... particularly disturbing to notice that the statement was signed by Ebrahim Ebrahim in his official capacity of deputy foreign minister on behalf of the ANC,” the SAZF said in a statement.
“That a senior official of the South African government would express himself in such blatantly insulting, unfair and unconstructive manner is an embarrassment to the ANC, the rest of the government and the South African people.”
However, international relations spokesman Clayson Monyela said the SAZF could not link the statement to Ebrahim's role as deputy minister.
“It is an ANC statement. The deputy minister issued it in his capacity as head of ANC international relations.”
African National Congress international relations manager Ribbon Mosholi said Ebrahim had not insulted anyone in the statement. He merely “stated the facts”.
“The statement is self-explanatory and is not an embarrassment to the ANC,” she said.
“Palestine is an occupied country, and we support both sides with secure borders. If Israel changes the borders every five minutes, while encroaching on Palestinian land, this is against all international laws.”
The SAZF alleged that Ebrahim's statement “adopted an incendiary language typical of activist organisations or fringe radical groups”.
“The statement was unambiguously one-sided,” it said.
“It identified Israeli occupation as a cause for the violence, ignoring the fact that Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2006.”
Ebrahim said in the statement on November 21 that the Israeli Defence Force’s bombardment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip was “barbaric”.
“The collective punishment of the citizens of Gaza is an outrage bordering on fascist aggression. Women and men of all ages and children are being mercilessly murdered in this war of attrition,” he said.
“We call on both sides to exercise restraint, as we all know that violence begets violence.... The ANC remains convinced that a lasting solution can only be arrived at through peaceful negotiations.”
The SAZF alleged that Ebrahim had voiced “virulent anti-Israel rhetoric” in the past few years.
“The ANC and the South African government have long supported the creation of a Palestinian state,” it said.
“They also have a right to criticise the actions of the state of Israel and they have often exercised this right in the past, but the biased and emotional rhetoric and actions of Mr Ebrahim crosses the line.” - Sapa