While there has been praise for Minister for Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor’s announcement that the ANC will push ahead to cut diplomatic ties with Israel, some organisations have warned the ruling party against populist rhetoric. In a State of the Nation debate on Monday, Pandor focused much on South Africa’s foreign policy, including its relationship with Israel.
Speaking in Parliament, Pandor said the ANC’s National Elective Conference last year made a resolution to sever diplomatic ties with Israel in protest of its illegal occupation and discrimination against the Palestinian people. This includes downgrading the SA embassy in Israel to a mere Liaison Office.
“The majority party has agreed, that government must cut diplomatic ties with Israel, given the absence of genuine initiatives by Israel to secure lasting peace and a viable two-state solution that includes full freedom and democracy for the Palestinian people,” she said.
Palestine advocacy group Media Review Network said while it supports the ANC for being outspoken advocates of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, action at a government level has not been fruitful.
“The obstacle has always been translating such rhetorical support at the party level into meaningful action at the level of national government such as downgrading South Africa’s embassy in Tel Aviv and cutting off diplomatic ties with the world’s last remaining apartheid outpost,” said MRN executive member Dr. Ahmed Haroon Jazbhay.
He said pro-Israeli lobby groups such as the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the South African Zionist Federation have been fighting the possible embassy downgrade by attempting to take advantage of the drought affecting Cape Town.
“It has endeavoured to sell its supposed desalination technology to the Western Cape Government whilst depriving indigenous Palestinians of the same technology and access to sufficient clean water – redolent of the tactics practiced by the apartheid government in South Africa,” he said.
He added that the South African government should “resist such opportunistic attempts” and ensure that it is serious about implementing the resolution of the ruling ANC.
“Pandor’s call for isolating apartheid Israel must not once more again be relegated to the realm of populist rhetoric,” said Jazbhay. VOC