Cape Town - A total of 248 members of the National Assembly voted in favour of the draft resolution to close the Israeli Embassy in South Africa and suspend all diplomatic relations with Israel.
The motion was proposed by EFF leader Julius Malema until such time the human rights of Palestinians are respected, promoted, and protected.
The DA voted against the motion, calling for a two-state solution. The total number of Members of Parliament (MPs) who voted against the motion was 91.
Voting against the motion, MP Steven Swart said that with this amendment, the country is losing an opportunity to be honest brokers in this situation.
The National Freedom Party (NFP) thanked the ANC and the EFF for agreeing to the amendment motion.
“Compromise between the two political parties indeed shows that they are focusing on wanting a peaceful solution, putting pressure on the Israeli government,” said NFP MP Ahmed Munzoor Shaik Emam.
“None of the other political parties issued a statement directly asking the Israeli army to stop bombing children and hospitals. 75 years of negotiations have taken place and nothing has been achieved, so what are we negotiating about? What are we going to negotiate?
“The only way to negotiate with them is by putting pressure on them to come to the negotiations,” said Shaik Emam.
Meanwhile, Israel decided to recall its ambassador to South Africa for consultations over the latest statements emanating from South Africa, stern in their condemnation over the indiscriminate bombardment of civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza.
The decision was shared by Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat on X (formerly Twitter) on Monday, ahead of a parliamentary vote over the closure of the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria.
Haiat said: “Following the latest South African statements, the Ambassador of Israel to Pretoria has been recalled to Jerusalem for consultations.”
Following the latest South African statements, the Ambassador of Israel to Pretoria has been recalled to Jerusalem for consultations. pic.twitter.com/yOSWD8TvhZ— Lior Haiat 🇮🇱 (@LiorHaiat) November 20, 2023
The continuous bombardment by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) on civilian residences, hospitals, schools, mosques and churches, have prompted South Africans to come out in their masses demanding that the South African Government close the Israeli embassy and remove its ambassador Eliav Belotserkovsky.
Recent notable figures adding to these calls was Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman following the targeted murder of GOTG office head in Gaza, Ahmed Abbasi.
South African BDS Coalition co-ordinator Roshan Dadoo said: “It seems that the apartheid Israeli ambassador wanted to get out of the country before the parliamentary debate and vote on declaring him persona non grata.
“We very much hope that the ANC will vote in favour of the EFF’s amended motion and that the government will swiftly implement the expulsion of the ambassador and closure of apartheid Israel's embassy in Pretoria.”
On November 17, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) announced that the country, along with like-minded states, i.e. Bangladesh, Bolivia, Venezuela, the Comoros, and Djibouti, had submitted a joint referral of the situation in Palestine to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
South Africa also encouraged other state parties to the Rome Statute to join the referral or to submit separate referrals independently.
Earlier this month, Dirco démarched the Israeli ambassador over his conduct. It had also taken the decision to recall its diplomats from Tel Aviv to assess its relationship with the country.
South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) national chairperson, Professor Karen Milner, said: "It is a great pity that the hostility towards the Israeli ambassador to South Africa has resulted in the withdrawal of the Israeli ambassador back to Jerusalem for consultation.
“This takes place against the background of a sustained campaign of demonising and bullying of the Israeli ambassador by the ANC in a way that was unconducive to dialogue and engagement.”