South Africa’s Parliament Votes to Suspend Relations with Israel

South Africa’s parliament has voted overwhelmingly for the Israeli embassy in the country to be closed down. (Photo: video grab)

By Nurah Tape – The Palestine Chronicle  

South Africa’s Parliament has voted in favor of a motion calling for the closure of the Israeli embassy in the country as well as the suspension of all diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv. 

The motion was passed on Tuesday with 248 votes in favor and 91 against.

These measures will be in place until Israel agrees to a ceasefire and participation in UN-facilitated peace negotiations.

Members of Parliament chanted “Free Palestine!” as soon as the results of the vote were announced. 

The vote follows the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week that South Africa has referred Israel to the ICC for an investigation into war crimes committed in the Gaza Strip.

Ramaphosa expressed concern that Gaza had turned into “a concentration camp” where “genocide” was taking place.

On Monday, his cabinet called on the ICC to issue an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by mid-December. This prompted Tel Aviv to recall its ambassador to South Africa for consultations. 

Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said it would be a “total failure” of global governance if the ICC does not issue the warrant.

Earlier this month, South Africa recalled all its diplomatic staff from Israel.

The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party had proposed the motion voted upon on Tuesday and was backed by the ruling ANC. 

Welcoming the outcome of today’s vote, the EFF said South Africa’s democracy is a product of international solidarity.

“We as South Africans know what it means to be segregated, to have our land dispossessed, to be denied quality healthcare, education and freedom of movement, at the hands of a regime that considered itself superior on the basis of their identity,” the EFF said in a statement.

The party called on the rest of Africa as well as “the progressive world to unite behind Palestine, and isolate Israel.”

Also on Tuesday, Pretoria hosted an extraordinary virtual meeting of BRICS countries to address the conflict.

Following the meeting, Ramaphosa reiterated that Israel must be held accountable for its “war crimes”.

He said the “root cause of the conflict is the illegal occupation of Palestine territory by Israel.”

Ramaphosa urged the international community to agree to concrete actions to end the suffering in Gaza and establish a clear path to a just and peaceful resolution to the conflict. 

He said South Africa’s demands include an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire, the opening of humanitarian corridors, the release of civilian hostages, and the resumption of a comprehensive UN-facilitated dialogue between the two sides.  

Ramaphosa will now have to consider the position taken by the parliament.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

– Nurah Tape is a South Africa-based journalist. She is an editor with The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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