South Africa: Pretoria Permanently Withdraws Its Ambassador From Israel

JOHANNESBURG, International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says withdrawing South Africa ambassador from Tel Aviv is just 'stage one' in downgrading relations with Israel.

The South African government has implemented what International Relations Minister Sisulu calls stage one of its programme of downgrading relations with Israel, by withdrawing its ambassador from Tel Aviv permanently.

She announced this in an address to the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) in Johannesburg.

Sisulu also suggested that eventually Israel would no longer have an ambassador in South Africa. If so, the government would be going even further than the ANC did at its conference in December 2017 when it decided to direct the government to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to a Liaison Office.

The ANC resolution did not direct the government also to downgrade Israel's embassy in Pretoria.

Sisulu told SAIIA that the ANC already had no relations with Israel and would like the government to adopt that position as soon as possible.

In her prepared remarks for the SAIIA lecture, Sisulu said that after Israeli security forces had shot Palestinian protesters on the Israel-Gaza border in 2018, Pretoria had immediately recalled South Africa's ambassador to Israel � Sisa Ngombane � for consultation.

It had also demarche'd the Israeli ambassador to South Africa, Lior Keinan. To demarche is diplomatic speak for summoning a foreign diplomat and delivering a protest.

We are in the process of following the downgrade resolution of the ruling party and stage one has been completed, Sisulu continued.

Our ambassador is back in South Africa and we will not be replacing him. Our liaison office in Tel Aviv will have no political mandate, no trade mandate and no development co-operation mandate.

It will not be responsible for trade and commercial activities. The focus of the Liaison Office would be on consular and the facilitation of people-to-people relations.

Source: NAM News Network