Pretoria‎, South Africa
Pretoria‎, South Africa iStock

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Monday protested South Africa’s move to downgrade its embassy in Israel.

Arthur Stark, Chairman and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said in a statement, “We have written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to protest the downgrading of the South African embassy in Israel.”

“Lessening diplomatic connections does not resolve problems and does not clarify any issues that may exist. For too long, South Africa’s government has joined the forces of rejectionism and extremism in their votes at the United Nations and in policies they have adopted towards Israel and the Middle East. It is most regrettable given the supportive role of the American and global Jewish community in seeking an end to the apartheid regime and supporting South Africa’s advancement,” they added.

“There is much to be gained from a stronger mutual relationship between both countries and their peoples. Downgrading the embassy status curtails those possibilities at a time when many African countries are developing closer ties to Israel, opening embassies, and recognizing the important benefits from growing bilateral relations. We urge the government of South Africa to immediately reverse its decision,” concluded Stark and Hoenlein.

South Africa’s Foreign Minister announced last week that the South African ambassador to Israel, who was recalled last May, will not be replaced.

On Sunday, she told reporters that her country’s plans to downgrade its embassy in Tel Aviv were well underway in accordance with a resolution passed 16 months ago by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.

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, Ramaphosa announced that his government would downgrade its embassy in Israel in accordance with the ANC resolution.

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.