Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Lindiwe Sisulu has come under attack by prominent Jewish bodies. Picture: Jacoline Schoonees/DIRCO News
Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Lindiwe Sisulu has come under attack by prominent Jewish bodies. Picture: Jacoline Schoonees/DIRCO News

ANC backs Sisulu on embassy downgrade

By Staff reporter Time of article published May 19, 2019

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A week before President Cyril Ramaphosa appoints his Cabinet, the ANC has thrown its weight behind Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Lindiwe Sisulu, in the wake of attacks on her by the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and the Zionist Federation.

In what has been perceived as an effort to malign the minister and influence the decision to reappoint her to the international relations portfolio, the vice-president of the SAJBD Zev Kregel, accused Sisulu of being “the single biggest threat to South African Jewry,” in an article which appeared in the Jewish Report.

Krengel also accused the minister of making outrageous, inflammatory and incorrect statements in the period before the elections.

The attacks on Sisulu by the Zionist community have come thick and fast ever since she announced that the downgrade of South Africa’s embassy in Israel is under way in April.

Since then, the Zionist community has been accused of attempting to drive a wedge between Sisulu and Ramaphosa, claiming that she is contradicting the President’s statements on the matter. Ramaphosa, however, clearly laid out his position in the National Assembly on March 7 last year when he said: “Government is in the process of giving effect to a resolution of the governing party that South Africa should downgrade its embassy in Israel.

“Our approach is informed by our concern at the ongoing violation of the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the refusal of the government of Israel to enter into meaningful negotiations to find a just and peaceful resolution to this conflict.”

Yesterday, the ANC categorically expressed its regret and disappointment with the “destructive utterances attributed to Zev Krengel in the Jewish Report directed at minister of international relations Lindiwe Sisulu”.

The ANC said it believed Sisulu has been advancing the progressive ANC stance in line with the 54th National Conference Resolution on the Palestinian question.

“Minister Sisulu’s integrity is beyond reproach. She enjoys the respect of millions of South Africans as well as leaders from many nations.

“The ANC is satisfied that minister Sisulu has recalibrated South Africa’s foreign policy so that it reflects the people of South Africa’s profound opposition to gross human rights abuses and colonial occupation of Palestine,” the ANC said.

The ANC called on the SAJBD to appreciate and respect growing concerns for the ongoing human rights atrocities being visited upon the people of Palestine by the government of Israel. It urged the SAJBD to refrain from actions that could be perceived as attempts to drive a wedge among the leaders of the ANC.

The ANC said the stance taken by South Africa to downgrade its relations with Israel has been welcomed by people of all religions who are concerned about the impunity with which Israel has been allowed to act against civilians. According to the ANC, downgrading the embassy is “an act of solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine in the face of the injustices meted out by a powerful war machine against mostly civilians”.

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