The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) on Monday voiced support for the government’s decision to downgrade the country’s diplomatic mission in Israel.
“We call on our government to continue speaking out against the oppression of Palestinians and express its disapproval of the barbaric and backward actions of the Zionist state and its defenders,” said COSATU, a coalition partner of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
The union federation was responding to accusation by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) against Minister of International Relations Minister and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu for downgrading the South African embassy in Israel.
Sisulu announced in April that her country had downgraded its embassy in Tel Aviv to an liaison office to show its solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, following a decision taken by the ANC more than a year ago.
Zev Krengel, vice-president of SAJBD, last week criticized Sisulu, calling her “a threat to the Jewish community in South Africa.”
The slanderous rant directed at Sisulu “is disingenuous and opportunistic,” COSATU national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said.
The decision to downgrade the South African embassy in Israel into a liaison office is not a Sisulu policy but a government policy, Pamla said.
Sisulu implemented the policy and it is therefore opportunistic to single her out, said Pamla.
COSATU salutes Sisulu for honestly implementing the alliance policies in support of the Palestinian people, Pamla said.
He reaffirmed COSATU’s solidarity with the Palestinian people and called for an end to the evictions of the Palestinians from their territories.
“Our federation supports the formation of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Israelis must affirm the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland,” Pamla said.
On Sunday, the South African Communist Party (SACP), another coalition partner with the ANC, also threw its weight behind the government to downgrade South Africa’s diplomatic mission in Israel.
That attack on Sisulu is nothing but rubbish and it is also racist because it seeks to racialize the country and divide it along the lines of ethnic groups, the SACP said. Enditem