The ANC decision to downgrade the South African embassy in Israel to a liaison office has been met with dismay from the South African Jewish community
The ANC took the resolution, which falls under the party’s foreign policy, at its 54th national conference, which ended in the early hours of Thursday morning.
The proposal was first put forward in July at the ANC’s national policy conference in the Western Cape.
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the South African Zionist Federation have both expressed their dismay at the decision, calling it a “discriminatory role”.
“We question the motives behind this discriminatory decision that would effectively prevent South Africa from playing any mediatory role in bringing about peace or dialogue between Israel and Palestine,” the Jewish Board of Deputies said in a statement.
The organisation felt that the ANC structures “were persuaded by those with obsession to vilify the Jewish state”.
The ANC had taken a unanimous decision was taken to support the Palestinian cause.
“Coming to the [54th national] conference, we found unity in our solidarity with the Palestinians and support for such forms of sanctions against Israel,” ANC North West spokesperson Gerald Modise told News24.
According to reports by Al Jazeera, “more than 80 Palestinians have been injured in fresh protests across the West Bank, two weeks after US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, according to the Red Crescent.”
“These procedures do also help in the extremist organisations to wage a religious war that would harm the entire region, which is going through critical moments and would lead us into wars that will never end, which we have warned about and always urged to fight against,” Palestine’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, said in a televised address following the US announcement, according to a CNN report.
The Israeli government, on the other hand, praised Trump’s move, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling on other nations to follow his lead.
The Jewish board of deputies has said that the move would leave South African’s “economically poorer”.
“A downgrade will negatively affect the South African economy by jeopardising (to name but a few) trade, tourism, access to hi tech and water technology,” and also says that the move works against “social cohesion”.
“We believe that the only way in which the peace in the Middle East will be achieved, is through direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. South Africa, with its close relationship with the Palestinians and with its experience of negotiations, has a unique position to facilitate engagements to peace,” the board of deputies said.