The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) urged the South African government on Wednesday to cut diplomatic ties with Israel over the killing of Palestinian civilians.
“The ANCYL demands that Israel’s ambassador to South Africa should be expelled from our country, and the embassy status be downgraded with immediate effect,” the ANCYL said in a statement emailed to Xinhua. This will be a more radical stance that could be taken by the government in solidarity with the people of Palestine, ANCYL national spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize said. The South African government on Monday announced its decision to recall its ambassador to Israel with immediate effect in protest against Israeli attack in the occupied Gaza Strip. The decision was made following Israel’s deadly attack in the Gaza Strip earlier on Monday when Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians who were protesting against the provocative inauguration of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, killing dozens of Palestinians and injuring many others.
The ANCYL welcomes the government’s principled decision to withdraw its ambassador to Israel as a solidarity and comradely gesture in support of the Palestinians, Mkhize said. “This affirms our standing fraternal relations with the people of Palestine. We reiterate that a two-state solution is best alternative to the ongoing impasse,” he said. The ANCYL calls on South African youth to stand in solidarity with their Palestinian counterpart, and demand that the ANC-led government cuts all diplomatic ties with Israel, Mkhize said. Other political parties, including the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the National Freedom Party (NFP), have also called for tougher action against Israel. They say recalling South Africa’s ambassador to Israel is not enough and that Israel’s ambassador to South Africa should be sent home.
However, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) have criticized the government’s decision to withdraw the South African ambassador to Israel. Zev Krengeld of the SAZF said the decision has left them disappointed and upset. “The government has never ever done this for any other country,” he said. Krengeld said the South African government only chooses their battles when it suits their diplomatic policy. But in this instance, South Africa chose to “walk away from playing any meaningful role in finding a sorely needed resolution to the conflict.”