The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation on Tuesday welcomed the withdrawal of South Africa’s ambassador to Israel Sisa Ngombane following Israel’s killing of over 50 Palestinians who were part of protests along the Gaza border since the start of the week.
International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said her department is also in continuous consultations with President Cyril Ramaphosa on the downgrading of the South African embassy in Israel.
In the last six weeks, since the beginning of the ‘Great March of Return’, close to 100 Palestinians were killed and thousands were injured.
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation’s executive director Neeshan Balton stated that it was outrageous that peaceful Palestinian protestors were being mowed down by live ammunition on one hand, while on the other, Israel and the US were celebrating in Jerusalem.
US President Donald Trump’s administration took the decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which was marked by an official ceremony on Monday, fueling protests by Palestinians, who regard East Jerusalem as the future Palestinian capital in a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict in the territory.
In December last year, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted against the US’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“We reiterate the call being made by Boycott Divestment and Sanctions South Africa for our government to expel the Israeli ambassador in South Africa, downgrade the Israeli Embassy to a liaison office and to apply state level sanctions against Israel,” said Balton.
Balton said that the American government’s opening of its embassy in Jerusalem was a “clear indication of America and Israel’s lack of commitment to peace in the region”.
The foundation further condemned Israel’s use of force and the escalation of violence and the targeting of journalists, who despite being marked as members of the media, have been shot with live ammunition along the Gaza border.
The foundation says this is an indication of just how dismissive the occupation is of general international standards.
Meanwhile, Sisulu stated that the South African government was still working out the modalities for the downgrading of the embassy and would provide an update once there was finality on the issue.
The Kathrada Foundation welcomed South Africa’s solidarity action in support of Palestine and said it was important to continue raising objection to the occupation, colonialism and apartheid that Palestinians have been subjected to for the better part of the last century.