South Africa city councilor suspended for pro-Israel statement

Johannesburg councilor Mpho Phalatse suspended by mayor for saying city a "friend" of Israel.

Tags: South Africa

Johannesburg (file)
Johannesburg (file)
Flash 90

The mayor of South Africa's economic hub Johannesburg suspended a senior councilor Tuesday after she made a public declaration that the city was a "friend" of Israel.

According to a video of her speech, Mpho Phalatse, a councilor in charge of health, said at a weekend pro-Israel event: "I would like to declare that I am a friend of Israel and the city of Johannesburg is a friend of Israel."

"We value you, we celebrate you, we appreciate you, feel at home..." she told participants at a conference held as part of a series of events organised by pro-Israel community and religious groups.

Mayor Herman Mashaba announced that he had decided "to suspend... Phalatse pending an investigation into the full and proper context in which those remarks were made".

Mashaba said he was "disappointed" that the councilor attributed her personal sentiments to the city on such an "emotional and sensitive" issue.

The councilor is a member of the country's main opposition Democratic Alliance which is in power in the city of Johannesburg.

The party supports a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Last month South Africa recalled its ambassador to Israel after at least 60 Arabs were killed in clashes on the Gaza border. Hamas admitted that at least 50 of those killed were its fighters.