No decision on South Africa severing ties with Israel

The government has not taken a decision to close the Israeli embassy. Picture: Jacques Naude /Independent Newspapers

The government has not taken a decision to close the Israeli embassy. Picture: Jacques Naude /Independent Newspapers

Published Nov 29, 2023


Cabinet has not yet taken a decision on the closure of the Israeli embassy two weeks after Parliament passed a resolution on it.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said there was no decision to cut all ties with Tel Aviv. He said there was a separation of powers between Parliament and the Executive.

Magwenya said Ramaphosa, Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor and Cabinet have been handling the issue of the conflict in the Middle East.

The African National Congress, Economic Freedom Fighters, National Freedom Party and African Transformation Movement voted for the closure of the Israeli embassy following the killing of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in the last seven weeks.

However, the temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has led to the release of some of the hostages and Palestinian prisoners.

South Africa also referred Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to be investigated for war crimes and crimes against humanity. South Africa was joined by five other countries for the ICC to probe Israel.

Magwenya said since the adoption of the resolution in Parliament, government has not decided on the closure of the Israeli embassy.

“As things stand there is no decision nor a process that is considering the severing of ties with the Israeli government,” said Magwenya.

“Cabinet has not decided that. We have clear separation of powers within our constitutional dispensation. Therefore, it is quite unprecedented that you will have parliament instructing the executive on what to do,” he said.

“The management of foreign policy exclusively lies within the domain of the national executive. The president alongside the minister of international relations and cooperation and Cabinet to some extent have been seized with the issue of the conflict in Gaza and a number of diplomatic interventions have been taken in this regard,” Magwenya said.

“At this stage there is no decision to completely ties with the Israeli government not withstanding the level of displeasure that the South African government has expressed with respect to the actions of the Israeli government.”

He said Ramaphosa has condemned the actions of both Hamas and the Israeli government.

He said government has referred Israel to the ICC to investigate it.

On the other hand, Ramaphosa has not been quiet on this matter and has engaged a number of world leaders.

This was a case in point when Ramaphosa convened an emergency meeting of BRICS leaders a week ago.

The leaders of China, Brazil, India, South Africa and Russia were joined by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

New BRICS members also joined the emergency meeting.

The summit called for an end to the conflict.

Magwenya said Ramaphosa will continue to explore various efforts to find a solution to the conflict in Gaza.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt also convened a summit on Gaza a few weeks ago in Cairo.

Arab leaders also met recently to try and find a solution to the conflict.

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