International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor on Wednesday said she had not yet tabled a proposal to the cabinet for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to South Africa, Eliav Belotsercovsky.
“The cabinet decided that we should recall all our officials from Israel for consultation. Should there be further action taken by the government, we obviously will make the necessary statement,” Pandor said.
She was responding to a question from the EFF during a question and answer session in the National Assembly.
Pressed on what it would take to cut diplomatic ties with Israel before the Red Berets tabled their motion next week, Pandor said the EFF has a role in Parliament to present any motion it wished to present.
“We have expressed our views with respect to the current carnage that is under way in Palestinian territory against the people of Palestine, particularly innocent civilians,” she said.
Responding to a follow-up question by IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa on whether there was anything placed on the table regarding the Israeli ambassador’s expulsion, Deputy Minister Alvin Botes explained that South Africa recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv in 2018.
“Given the incremental actions of the Israel state, which we regard as genocidal, we took a decision that was announced by the Minister in the Presidency to recall the entire diplomatic personnel for further consultation,”
Botes said, when Pandor experienced connectivity problems during the question and answer session.
Pandor told the MPs earlier that her department, along with non-governmental organisations and international organisations, was discussing how South Africa may be of assistance with humanitarian aid in the Middle East.
There have been discussions with Gift of Givers, the Red Cross and other civil society organisations to identify opportunities to facilitate humanitarian aid to Gaza and other parts of Palestinian territory.
“We also provided diplomatic support through the government of Egypt for NGOs to transport humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing point,” she said.
She noted that some of the humanitarian trucks and workers had come under fire and had to return to Egypt or give up on attempts to provide humanitarian aid and drive into areas where help was needed.
Meanwhile, Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said the State Security Agency was monitoring the developments in the Middle East conflict.
Ntshavheni said the problem of South Africans joining the ranks of the Israel Defence Force was receiving attention, but the problem went beyond Israel.
“It encompasses other conflicts where states and non-state players are involved in training in armed conflicts.
Where sufficient evidence is available that breaches of relevant law have occurred, affected people will have to be prosecuted. There is an obvious need for a multi-layered awareness campaign by all stakeholders. It is a global challenge that requires discussion at a multi-layered level,” she said.
Ntshavheni said it was illegal for South Africans to participate in military operations outside the country that were not sanctioned by the government.
“The NPA will have to move with speed to prosecute those who are participating not only in Israel but in any other part of the world and the (Department of) Defence must to attend to those who are former soldiers in terms of their benefits,” she said.