Pretoria‎, South Africa
Pretoria‎, South AfricaiStock

South Africa's chief justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, on Friday came under fire over comments seen as pledging support for Israel, AFP reported.

The judge sparked an outcry for remarks he made during a webinar this week co-organized by the Jerusalem Post and South Africa's chief rabbi, Warren Goldstein.

"I cannot, as a Christian, do anything other than love and pray for Israel because I know hatred for Israel by me and my nation can only attract unprecedented curses upon our nation," he said.

South Africa, he added, was "denying (itself) a wonderful opportunity of being a game-changer in the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

"We know what it means to be at loggerheads, a nation at war with itself," he said.

The ruling ANC party accused Mogoeng of venturing into politics with "unfortunate" comments "which may make him vulnerable should he have to adjudicate a human rights matter in the future".

"He also openly supported the actions of the State of Israel, actions condemned by the United Nations Security Council on numerous occasions and contemptuous behavior towards the human rights of the people of Palestine," ANC spokesman Pule Made said in a statement quoted by AFP.

The radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) called on the judge to withdraw his remarks and submit himself "to the collective wisdom and call by the oppressed people of Palestine".

A local pro-Palestinian rights group said it plans to lay a formal complaint with the country's Judicial Service Commission.

"It is regrettable that the Chief Justice has publicly entered the Israeli-Palestinian issue on the side of the oppressors - the Israeli regime," said the #Africa4Palestine organization.

The chief justice has not commented on the criticism.

Anti-Israel sentiments remain prevalent in South Africa, where the government has frequently accused Israel of applying a policy of “apartheid” towards Palestinian Arabs.

Last year, the country announced plans to downgrade its embassy in Tel Aviv.

A year earlier, 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.

Several years ago, the ANC party proposed new rules regarding dual citizenship meant to stop South African citizens from joining the IDF.

(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.)