A poll carried out by South Africa’s governing party, the African National Congress (ANC), has found overwhelming 75% support for the shutdown of the SA Embassy in Israel. The ANC online poll comes ahead of the ANC’s conference later this week where branches are to ratify a recommendation from the ANC’s national policy conference for the immediate and unconditional downgrade of the SA Embassy in Tel Aviv to a Representative/Liaison Office.
Writing on the downgrade, ANC Deputy Secretary-General, Comrade Jessie Duarte, explains that as the ANC therefore prepares for its National Conference, South Africa’s future relations with Israel hangs in the balance and rightly so.
“For over two decades, South Africa has pleaded with Israelis and worked with them, together with local groups, to ensure that injustices do not continue. Yet these have gone on unabated.”
Support from within the ANC, for the downgrade, has come from various branches and regions across the country. In an article published by the Cape Time, the Western Cape Provincial Secretary Faiez Jacobs explains why his province will be supporting the resolution:
“While the ANC has long pledged its solidarity with the liberation struggle of the Palestinian people, it must decide on more clear and actionable resolutions at this conference. The ANC of the Western Cape Province joins the collective of branches within the ANC in supporting the immediate downgrading of diplomatic relations with Israel, as a meaningful step towards holding the occupying state to account…words that are not backed up by action simply indicate to Israel that it may continue with its occupation, colonialism and apartheid. If we are to have meaningful solidarity with Palestine, then we must move beyond our previous symbolic gestures and turn our words into action.”
South Africans have spoken in support of the ANC branches calling for the downgrade of the SA Embassy in Israel.
“We are confident that the ANC conference will implement the downgrade which has been backed by virtually all Palestinian political parties including Hamas, Fateh, PFLP as well as the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian Churches. Progressive South African Jews and their Israeli counterparts have also urged for the downgrade,” said BDS South Africa.
But the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD )and the SA Zionist Federation believes it will have a detrimental impact on trade and tourism. It has been lobbying the ANC not to go ahead.
“Over the past four months we have taken the opportunity to engage not just with Minister Edna Molewa and her committee, but also with other decision makers in the ANC, to voice our concerns on how an Embassy downgrade would impact not only on Jewish South Africans, but for many people across the spectrum in South Africa. We have engaged stakeholders on all levels to assist us with this process including community and business leaders, civil society and religious leaders. We have also shared how this process will negate the unique role South Africa can play in the peace process by sharing our experience of finding resolution to complex conflicts through dialogue,” the Zionist organisations said in a statement.