Go home: ANC wants Israeli ambassador to SA to pack his bag and leave

ANC’s international relations sub-committee deputy chairperson Obed Bapela. File Picture

ANC’s international relations sub-committee deputy chairperson Obed Bapela. File Picture

Published Nov 7, 2023


South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has “congratulated” government on the withdrawal of South Africa’s diplomats from Israel, but the party insists Israeli ambassador to South Africa Eliav Belotserkovsky must be instructed to leave.

The ANC’s international relations sub-committee deputy chairperson Obed Bapela, speaking to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika on Tuesday morning, said the ruling party has told government to expel Belotserkovsky.

“The ANC as an organisation has called on government to do exactly that … his behaviour and conduct has also been worrying. I know that there will be processes by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation on how to do it, but he has to go until there is ceasefire. That is what we are calling for as the African National Congress, we are unambiguous about it. He has to go,” said Bapela emphatically.

He said the communication will be articulated to the ANC deployees in government, that Belotserkovsky must leave.

ANC’s international relations sub-committee deputy chairperson Obed Bapela. File Picture: Leon Nicholas

“The discussion took place yesterday at the working committee and there there is a special NEC (national executive council) meeting today – definitely that message will be articulated and given to our deployees – that the ambassador of Israel should go, for so long as the carnage, the bombing and the killing continues. He must just go home and they will then see when they cease fire what will be the new elements and arrangements,” said Bapela.

On Monday, IOL reported that during a post-Cabinet media briefing, Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni described Belotserkovsky’s position and presence as becoming “very untenable” following his alleged comments.

Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni. File Picture: Jacques Naude/ Independent Newspapers

“Cabinet has decided to instruct Dirco to take necessary measures within the diplomatic channels and protocols to deal with the conduct of the ambassador of Israel to South Africa. We leave it to Dirco to decide what will be done with the ambassador. He is a guest in our country and must conduct himself as a guest, and he has no right,” she said without divulging further details.

Approached for comment, the embassy of Israel in Pretoria said: “There has not been any further developments that the Embassy wishes to add in this regard.”

ANC MP Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, from Royal House of Mandela said while they welcomed the recalling of South African diplomats from “apartheid Israel”, more action was needed.

ANC MP Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, from Royal House of Mandela. File Picture

“We will keep mobilising South Africans until the apartheid Israel ambassador is expelled and all diplomatic ties with apartheid Israel are cut. We appeal to them to follow this up with expelling the apartheid Israeli ambassador and cutting all diplomatic ties in light of the flagrant disregard for international law, basic humanity and regard for the value of human life as outlined in the Geneva Convention,” Mandela said.

The General Industries Workers’ Union of SA (GIWUSA), part of the Palestinian Solidarity campaign, meanwhile said it believed that the Cabinet decision to withdraw South Africa’s diplomats in Israel was “wholly inadequate”, given the daily massacres of Palestinians.

Mametlwe Sebei, president of the General Industries Workers’ Union of SA. File Picture: Oupa Mokoena

“Our demands are very clear – the Israeli ambassador and all Israeli diplomatic staff must be immediately expelled from South Africa. The South African government must terminate all diplomatic relations with the Zionist and apartheid State of Israel now,” the union said.

An explosion from an Israeli strike glows in the sky, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Gaza City. Picture: Mohammed Al-Masri/ Reuters

Meanwhile, Israel has rebuffed mounting international pressure for a ceasefire, saying hostages taken by Hamas militants during their rampage in southern Israel on October 7 should be released first.