Religious organisations who have been calling on the ANC to impose a boycott and sanctions campaign have welcomed the announcement of the downgrading of diplomatic ties with the state of Israel. In a statement, the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa lauded the move announced by the International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, following the ruling party’s resolution adopted its national conference in 2017. Many believe the decision comes at a time when some of the leading nations are back-pedalling on their obligations and commitments, recognised by international law, accords and treaties, towards the people of Palestine.
“The implementation of this resolution comes at a time when the Zionist entity has been emboldened by the Trump Administration’s relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem and the declaring of recognition of sovereignty of Israel over occupied Golan Heights. Thanks to such recognition, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu now fancies the annexation of the occupied West Bank, an illegal step under international conventions,” said the Jamiat Ulema South Africa’s secretary general Maulana Ebrahim Bham.
The Report of the 54th National Conference of the African National Congress (ANC), held at Nasrec in Johannesburg, in December 2017, records Resolution 34(c) on Palestine which in part, reads:
“…and in order to give our practical expression of support to the oppressed people of Palestine; the ANC has unanimously resolved to direct the SA government to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to a Liaison Office.”
Against international consensus in the United Nations General Assembly as well as several United Nations Security Council resolutions, the state of Israel continues to be an occupying power, implementing anti-Palestinian policies that have been compared to those of the Apartheid era in South Africa.
Dehumanization of Palestinian people, their maiming, the denial of their human rights, dispossession, the siege of Gaza, extra-judicial killings, home demolitions and massacres, have continued with impunity, for the period of 70 years, since the establishment on the Zionist state.
“This move, therefore, is timely not only in showing the determination of the ANC-led South African government in expressing solidarity with the oppressed Palestinians, but also in setting a benchmark for the rest of the world, spelling a commitment to the rule of law, which among other issues, calls for an end to the illegal Zionist occupation.”
Speaking to a gathering recently, Minister Lindiwe Sisulu stated about the South African liaison office in Tel Aviv that “will have no political mandate, no trade mandate, and no development cooperation mandate. It will not be responsible for trade and commercial activities.”
According to the Jamiat Ulama South Africa, it is imperative for the people of conscience and as human beings with a commitment to justice, to support the Palestinian struggle against oppression. The struggle should continue with the objectives that are recognised via international law, in:
a) Ending the illegal occupation and colonization of all lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the illegal Apartheid Wall built on stolen Palestinian land;
b) Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Palestinian citizens to full equality under the law; and,
c) Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
“History has shown that freedom is not founded on military might and a number of powerful friends, alone. Rather, it is realised by those who are committed, regardless of the odds, and are driven by a natural instinct to seek and establish justice, equity and peace,” said Bham.
“No amount of illegal steps of dispossession, land-grabbing and annexation of territories shall erase the collective memory of the people of the world in their demand for justice and the restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people.”
“By extending solidarity towards Palestinians, South Africa has given expression to a level commitment that is informed by her own experience of the struggle for liberation. It is a significant gesture that will ensure that the Palestinian Question remains on the agenda of human rights and global relations. Other countries should emulate South Africa.”