South African lawmakers vote in favor of closing Israel’s embassy and cutting diplomatic ties

AP , Tuesday 21 Nov 2023

A majority of South African lawmakers on Tuesday voted in favor of a motion calling for the closure of the Israeli embassy and the cutting of diplomatic ties until Israel agrees to a ceasefire in Gaza.

South Africa Parliament
South Africa Parliament. Photo courtesy of The Government Communication and Information System (GICS) of South Africa


The vote on the motion supported by the ruling African National Congress party came as President Cyril Ramaphosa in a meeting with other world leaders accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza with its military offensive in the beseiged territory in search of its Hamas rulers.

The motion tabled by the opposition party Economic Freedom Fighters received the support of 248 parliament members while 91 lawmakers opposed it.

The vote came after Israel’s foreign ministry said it had recalled its ambassador to South Africa, Eliav Belotserkovsky, back to Jerusalem “for consultations.”

The two countries’ diplomatic relations have witnessed a rise in tensions over the war in Gaza. Ramaphosa previously said his country believes Israel is committing war crimes in Gaza, where thousands of Palestinians have been killed.

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. Its cabinet has called on the ICC to issue an arrest warrant against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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

Ramaphosa’s new comments Tuesday came in a virtual meeting of BRICS countries attended by leaders of the bloc including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Israli war on Gaza  began after Hamas surprise offensive on Israel on Oct.7.

Since then, the war has killed more than 14,128 people, 5,840 of them children, 3,920 are women, alongside 33,000 wounded, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

* This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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