People from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign demonstrate outside St George’s Cathedral. Picture: Armand Hough/ANA

Johannesburg - The African National Congress (ANC) in the Western Cape has warned the Israeli government that its recent blacklisting of those who support the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has only served to encourage the ANC’s support for the Palestinian struggle and the boycott against the Jewish state.

According to a list released by the Israeli government, those cited will not be allowed entry to Israel-Palestine over their support for BDS – an international movement that seeks to pressure Israel to cease its illegal occupation of Palestinian land and its abuse of Palestinians, similar to the international boycott against apartheid South Africa.

The Israeli government list singles out BDS South Africa, an organisation of South African citizens, many of whom are ANC members.

In a Thursday press statement, the provincial ANC said: "In the ANC-led South Africa, many of our ministers and other senior government officials, including members of parliament, premiers, mayors and others are vocal public supporters of Palestine and many have addressed BDS events."

"Our resolutions and policies mandate our deployees in government to carry Palestine solidarity within their government portfolios."

In 2014, the ANC resolved to support the "call for a cultural, academic and education boycott of Israel".

"For two years in a row, our January 8th events held a reminder to all ANC officials to boycott travel to Israel. At our most recent elective congress we resolved for the immediate and unconditional downgrade of the SA Embassy in Israel to a liaison office," added the statement.

According to Israeli media, mayors and government officials who support boycotts of Israel will, under this recent blacklisting process, also be prevented from entering Israel-Palestine.

"This kind of thuggery and attempt to infringe on our freedom to stand against the government of Israel's violation of international law is affirmation that they are a rogue regime," said the ANC Western Cape office. 

Last year Israel barred World Council of Churches leader Isabel Phiri, a citizen of Malawi living in Switzerland, due to the support of the WCC for the Palestinian struggle.

One of the organisations included on Israel's BDS Blacklist is the progressive Jewish organisation, Jewish Voices For Peace (JVP).

"The hypocrisy of the Israeli government and its lobby groups who talk of 'mediating and talking' when they ban and blacklist peaceful human rights organisations has been exposed," said ANC statement.

"We will continue with our practical solidarity to assist in pressuring Israel to end its human rights abuses, apartheid policies and violations of international law."

"Until then the struggle of the people of Palestine is our struggle, just as how our struggle was once their struggle!"

Last year a number of ANC leaders, including our newly elected ANC president, Cyril Ramaphosa, participated in a solidarity hunger strike with Palestinian political prisoners.

"We call for the swift implementation of the immediate and unconditional downgrade of the SA Embassy in Israel," concluded the statement.

African News Agency/ANA