South Africa downgrades Israel embassy in support of Palestine


Published: 2017-12-21 16:04

Last Updated: 2024-04-15 01:56

A scene from a South African protest 2014 (Mondoweiss)
A scene from a South African protest 2014 (Mondoweiss)

South Africa’s ruling party is downsizing its embassy in Israel to a “Liaison Office,” in protest of the U.S. government's controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The African National Congress (ANC) party said on Wednesday that South Africa will downside its diplomatic representation in Israel, in response to the U.S. President Trump’s recent announcement, with plans to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

“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,” the ANC said in a statement.

The ANC said their move would “send a clear message to Israel that there is a price to pay for its human rights abuses and violations of international law.”

Palestinian ambassador to South Africa, Hashem Dajani, called the move “an important decision,” and added that he hoped other governments around the world would follow suit.

“This is a huge step in the right direction and a massive gain for the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel movement," Kwara Kekana, of BDS South Africa, said in a statement.

"The ANC, Africa’s oldest liberation movement, which benefited from boycotts and sanctions against Apartheid South Africa, has provided direction and we look forward to others following suit,” she added.

Earlier this year a UN report accused Israel of imposing an apartheid regime of racial discrimination on the Palestinian people, the first time a U.N. body has made such a charge outside of South Africa.

However, despite the deeply oppressive nature of South African apartheid, many South African activists and academics have argued that the current Palestinian experience of apartheid is far more severe than their own country’s dark past.

Tens of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since U.S. President Donald Trump announced the decision last month, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported Wednesday, while hundreds have been injured in clashes with Israeli police and occupation forces.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society also said that at least 490 people have been arrested since the Trump decision earlier this month, including 148 minors and 11 women.