Israel recalls ambassador to South African ahead of parliamentary vote to shut down Israeli embassy

AP , Tuesday 21 Nov 2023

Israel has recalled its ambassador to South Africa, Eliav Belotserkovsky, back to Jerusalem “for consultations” ahead of a parliamentary vote in the African country to decide the fate of the Israeli embassy on Tuesday.

Pro-Palestinian supporters demonstrate at the entrance to the Israeli embassy in Pretoria, South Afr
Pro-Palestinian supporters demonstrate at the entrance to the Israeli embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, Friday, Oct. 20, 2023. AP


The two countries’ diplomatic relations have recently witnessed a rise in tensions over the Israeli war on Gaza. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa previously said his country believes Israel is committing war crimes and genocide in Gaza, where thousands of Palestinians have been killed.

Israel has launched a relentless bombing campaign and ground offensive in Gaza since 7 October.

The Israeli war has killed more than 13,300 people, 5,600 of them children, 3,500 are women, alongside 31,000 are wounded. 

"Following the latest South African statements, the Ambassador of Israel to Pretoria has been recalled to Jerusalem for consultations,” Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted late Monday on X, formerly known as Twitter.

This came ahead of a vote in South Africa's parliament on a motion to shut down the Israeli embassy and cut all ties with Israel until a cease-fire is implemented in Gaza.

The motion tabled by the leftist opposition party Economic Freedom Fighters has the backing of the ruling African National Congress and other smaller parties.

South Africa announced last week that it had referred what it called Israel’s “genocide” in Gaza to the International Criminal Court for an investigation, with its cabinet calling on the ICC Monday to issue an arrest warrant against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Given that much of the global community is witnessing the commission of these crimes in real-time, including statements of genocidal intent by many Israeli leaders, we expect that warrants of arrest for these leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, should be issued shortly," South African minister in the presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, told reporters Monday.

Earlier this month, South Africa recalled its ambassador to Israel and withdrew all its diplomatic staff from the country.

The conflict will also be the subject of a virtual meeting of BRICS countries on Tuesday, which will be attended by leaders of the bloc, including Ramaphosa, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The economic bloc was formed by Brazil, Russia, India, and China in 2009 and added South Africa in 2010. Iran, Saudi Arabia the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Egypt, and Ethiopia are also set to enter BRICS.

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