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South Africa Votes to Suspend Ties with Israel, Close Embassy

Wed 22 Nov 2023 | 01:11 PM
Israa Farhan

The South African Parliament has voted in favor of closing the Israeli embassy, expelling the Israeli ambassador, and suspending diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv until a ceasefire in Gaza is agreed upon.

This decision, as reported by Reuters, is largely symbolic, as it will be up to the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, to implement it.

A spokesperson for the presidency stated that Ramaphosa "noted and appreciates" the parliamentary directive regarding diplomatic relations between South Africa and Israel, particularly concerning the status of the embassy.

Vincent Magwenya, spokesperson for the presidency, clarified that "Ramaphosa and the Cabinet are seized with this matter, which remains the responsibility of the national executive authority."

Ramaphosa and senior officials from the Foreign Ministry have openly criticized the Israeli leadership for its destructive military operations in Gaza, calling on the International Criminal Court to investigate possible war crimes.

The Israeli embassy did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment.

On Monday, the Israeli ambassador to Pretoria was summoned to Tel Aviv for consultations before the vote, which was adopted on Tuesday with a majority of 248 votes in favor and 91 votes against.

The parliamentary resolution was presented by the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party last week, as the ruling African National Congress pledged support for South Africa's longstanding central diplomatic stance since Nelson Mandela became the country's first democratically elected president in 1994.