South Africa's ruling party resolves to downgrade embassy in Israel

Official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency reported that the decision was made directly in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Governments, including that of South Africa, should be downgrading diplomatic relations and their embassies in Israel, to send a clear message to Israel that its violations of worldwide law are unacceptable.

South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress, on Wednesday night, passed a resolution calling to downgrade the status of its Tel Aviv embassy to a "liaison office" in a move of "solidarity" with "the oppressed people of Palestine".

According to the Times of Israel, meanwhile, "it is unclear whether the government in Pretoria will implement the decision".

"A downgrade will negatively affect the South African economy by jeopardising (to name but a few) trade, tourism, access to hi tech and water technology", and also says that the move works against "social cohesion".

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Palestine's ambassador to South Africa, Hashem Dajani, welcomed the ANC move describing it as "an important decision".

This is where the Palestinians themselves have led the way in asking the world to apply the same policy of Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel - a policy that we, as South Africans, adopted to hasten the end of Apartheid, added the SAJFP statement.

The ANC further stated that it concurred "with the PLO leader, General Jibril Rajoub, who was at our conference where (he) explained that the downgrade of the SA Embassy in Israel will send a clear message to Israel that there is a price to pay for its human rights abuses and violations of global law". "We further question the motives of organisations and individuals who have managed to "capture" the ANC's worldwide relations agenda‚ including the BDS". He added that keeping relations with Israel had enabled South Africa to directly voice its objections to the Israeli government, as well as maintain a diplomatic office in the Palestinian city of Ramallah. In the past, South African diplomats have pointed out in private discussions that the party, for domestic political reasons, often takes a hardline pro-Palestinian position that is not reflected in the government's policy toward Israel.

In a statement sent just moments after the announcement, the Jewish Board of Deputies questioned the motive behind the ANC's decision, alleging that the party's foreign policy formulation process has been hijacked by forces that have limited interest in promoting the well being of the local Jewish community. In diplomatic terms, they continued, "South Africa will forfeit a meaningful role to play as a peace broker".

The South African Board of Jewish Deputies and the South African Zionist Federation jointly condemned the ANC's decision.

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