Expel Israeli diplomats, says Vavi

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INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Reinstated general secretary of Cosatu, Zwelinzima Vavi, outside Cosatu House. Picture: Dumisani Dube

Pretoria - Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi urged government on Friday to immediately cut diplomatic ties with Israel.

“This government of ours must, not tomorrow but today, buy a ticket for the ambassador of Israel, take him to the airport and send him back home,” said Vavi in Pretoria.

“They should send a ticket to our ambassador in Tel Aviv and bring him back with his entire family, never to go back to that racist country.

“We want government to cut all diplomatic ties with that Israel government.”

Vavi joined a protest organised by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, criticising the Israeli occupation of Gaza and attacks on Palestine.

The protesters gathered at the entrance of the OR Tambo Building in Pretoria, the headquarters of the department of international relations, calling for the immediate expulsion of the Israeli ambassador.

More than 200 activists lined the busy Soutpansberg Road chanting: “Free Palestine” and “Hoot 4 Gaza”.

Some shouted: “Down with Israeli apartheid, down”, waving flags and placards.

International media reports on Friday afternoon said two more Palestinians were killed, raising the death toll in four days to 100.

Vavi said South Africa should also cut economic ties with “racist Israel”.

“Please cut all those economic ties. We will not rest, we will come back over and over until we have convinced every South African that it is cool to support our brothers and sisters who are being oppressed,” he said.

“Join the BDS, stand up and be counted in the struggle against apartheid being practised against the people of Palestine.

“What we went through, over 300 years of colonial oppression in South Africa, is like a Sunday school picnic compared to what the Palestinians are going through every day.”

He lambasted the United States for supporting Israel.

“Shame on you, Barack Obama. Shame on you and your name that represents the opposite of what you are doing to the people of Palestine,” said Vavi.

“Our own international icon Nelson Mandela told us that we remain unfree until the people of Palestine have been freed. We are anti-racist to the core.”

On Thursday, the African National Congress described the Israeli military's attacks on the Gaza strip as “barbaric”.

“The state of Israel has turned the occupied territories of Palestine into permanent death camps,” deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said in a statement.

“Of course the killing of any child, irrespective of race, colour or creed, must be condemned and the death of 1/8three 3/8 Israeli young people is surely as senseless as any other death.”

However, the killing needed to stop, she said.

Three Israeli teenagers - Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gilad Shaer, 16 and Eyal Yifrah, 19 - were kidnapped and murdered last month.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) at the time reported that the three disappeared from a popular hitch-hiking spot near the southern West Bank Gush Etzion settlement late on June 12.

The Israeli military found the teenagers' bodies in a field northwest of Hebron on June 30.

On July 2, 16-year-old Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir was burnt to death.

This reportedly triggered days of clashes in east Jerusalem and Arab Israeli towns.

Scores of people have died during the Gaza raids and Israel's Operation Protective Edge, launched early on Tuesday to stop rocket fire reportedly by Hamas militants.

The SA Jewish Board of Deputies and the SA Zionist Federation condemned Duarte's statement.

Sapa


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