Pretoria‎, South Africa
Pretoria‎, South AfricaiStock

South Africa's former chief justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, on Thursday apologized for comments he made in 2020 pledging support for Israel, AFP reported.

Mogoeng sparked an outcry in 2020 when he said in a webinar, "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.”

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.

A year later, Mogoeng was ordered to apologize for misconduct by getting entangled in political controversy, "criticizing and proposing changes to the official policy of the South African Government towards Israel". At the time, he reiterated that he will not back down from the comments and appealed a decision by the country’s Judiciary Conduct Committee that he apologize.

The earlier decision was upheld and on Thursday he said in a statement, "I am now forced by the law... to apologize unconditionally." The appeals panel found him to have involved himself in "extrajudicial activities".

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

In 2019, 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.