Parties decry South Africa’s Israel embassy downgrade

By LUNGANI ZUNGU Time of article published Sep 30, 2018

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UDM leader, Bantu Holomisa has called for peace talks to start so as to find an amicable solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict.

“Until they do that the people of Palestine and Israel are delaying their freedom,” said Holomisa. 

Cope leader, Mosiuoa Lekota said the decision to downgrade the embassy to a liaison officer was wrong. “It goes against the grain of democracy.

The ANC should review this decision. I think South Africa should be playing a mediating role,” said Lekota.

This was echoed by ACDP MP, Steve Swart. He said the decision to recall Ngombane was “short-sighted and uncessessary.” He said South Africa should play a mediating role in the middle east.

“And for that process to happen it is necessary for us to have our embassy in Israel. We need to ensure that we are peacemakers,” said Swart.

The DA’s shadow minister of international relations, Stevens Mokgalapa, criticised the government for recalling Ngombane. 

He said South Africa should be playing a leadership role. Mkhuleko Hlengwa, IFP’s national spokesperson, said it was a regressive step to terminate relations with Israel. 

Instead, what should be pursued, he said, was uplifting Palestine. Hlengwa said the IFP believed a two-state solution was the recipe to end the Israel-Palestine conflicts. Hlengwa said it was regrettable that the ANC believed that downgrading Israel to a liaison office was the solution. 

“It is certainly a wrong direction that the ANC is taking. We are certain that the embassy should remain as it is. But of course we condemn any human rights violations and atrocities,” said Hlengwa. 

The ANC-led South African government announced earlier this year that it would downgrade its Israeli embassy to a liaison office. 

This was after ANC delegates to its December conference voted in favour of such a move. Ngombane’s recall in May was prompted by the killing of around 40 Palestinians in Gaza by the Israeli army during a protest.

Sunday Tribune

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