South Africa will not bring back ambassador to Israel

South African ambassador to Israel who was recalled last year will not be brought back, South Africa will downgrade embassy in Tel Aviv.

Tags: South Africa
Elad Benari, Canada ,

Pretoria‎, South Africa
Pretoria‎, South Africa

Following the recall of South Africa's ambassador to Israel, the country’s International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has announced that he will not be replaced, the News24 website reported on Friday.

In a speech, published on the Department of International Relations and Cooperation's (Dirco) website, Sisulu said that the decision to not replace ambassador Sisa Ngombane was part of the process of downgrading ties with Israel.

In 2018, the South African government took a decision to downgrade its Israeli embassy to a liaison office, in line with a resolution taken by the ruling ANC party during its 2017 elective conference.

Last May, South Africa withdrew its ambassador to Israel in protest against the deadly violence along the Israel-Gaza border.

The decision came after the Hamas terrorist organization led violent and mass terrorist acts in protest against the inauguration of the new United States embassy in Jerusalem. Hamas later openly admitted that most of those who were killed in those violent riots were members of the group.

Last month, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that his government would downgrade its embassy in Israel in accordance with the ANC resolution calling for the downgrading of South Africa's Embassy in Tel Aviv.

In her address to the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) on Wednesday, Sisulu explained the consequences of downgrading the South African embassy in Israel.

"We are in the process of following the downgrade resolution of the ruling party, and stage one has been completed," Sisulu's speech read, according to News24.

"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 cooperation 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," she stressed.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Friday in response to South Africa’s move, "We heard this and are examining the implications."

Anti-Israel sentiments remain prevalent in South Africa, where the government has frequently accused Israel of applying a policy of “apartheid” towards Palestinian Arabs. One such example was when the ANC party proposed new rules regarding dual citizenship meant to stop South African citizens from joining the IDF.

In another example, the county’s Foreign Minister slammed Israel's plans to build new homes in Jerusalem, saying she was “losing sleep” over the size of “Palestine”.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)