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The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) says while parliament has adopted a motion to cut ties with Israel pending a ceasefire and UN-led negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinian territories, it is up to the government to make the decision.  

On Tuesday, the National Assembly adopted an EFF-sponsored motion to “close” the Israeli embassy and cut diplomatic relations by 248 votes in favour against 91.

The ANC, EFF, ATM and PAC supported the motion, while the DA, IFP, FF+ and ACDP opposed it. 

SAJBD chair Karen Milner said: “It was a pointless exercise because parliament does not determine the international relations of SA. It is especially pointless, given Israel’s decision to withdraw its ambassador for consultation. 

“The jeers of the EFF and ANC singing ‘From the river to the sea,’ a chant that calls for the destruction of the only Jewish state, makes a mockery of the ANC’s stated position of supporting a two-state solution.  

“Minister of international relations Naledi Pandor recognises how counter-productive such a resolution is,” Milner said.  

Last week SA ambassador in The Hague Vusi Madonsela delivered a referral letter which asked the International Criminal Court to investigate the commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide to hold those responsible accountable for civilian lives lost in Gaza. 

Pretoria has been vocal in its Palestinian support and calling for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be investigated for war crimes. 

On November 1, the cabinet decided to recall SA’s diplomats from Israel for consultations. This was followed by a démarche against Israeli ambassador Eliav Belotserkovsky by the international relations and co-operation department over his conduct relating to the war.

On Monday, the Israeli government announced it was recalling Belotserkovsky for consultations, further deepening the strained relations between Tel Aviv and Pretoria.   

Brics leaders met virtually on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza on Tuesday. The leaders called for accountability and “condemned individual or mass forcible transfer and deportation of Palestinians from their own land”.  

They added that Israel’s actions constituted “grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and war crimes and violations under international humanitarian law”. 

The Palestinian embassy in SA welcomed the stance taken by the leaders. 

“Palestine expresses gratitude to Brics as leaders condemn Israel’s war on Gaza, calling for an end to war crimes. The virtual summit chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa demands an urgent ceasefire to end the humanitarian crisis and denounces attacks on civilians,” the embassy said on X, formerly Twitter.

Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the four-day humanitarian truce agreed to in the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

“This pause, which regrettably implies a possible resumption of conflict, must be accompanied by efforts to secure a durable political resolution of the decades-long challenge in the Middle East,” Ramaphosa said on Wednesday. 

His comments come a day after Brics leaders called an emergency virtual meeting to discuss the conflict.

Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said Ramaphosa commended mediation efforts by Qatar, Egypt and the US that would enable the release of Palestinian detainees and Israeli hostages and allow relief aid to Gaza.

“As a member of the international community that stands for peace, justice and the rule of international law in all parts of the world, SA welcomes the agreement. It is my hope that the achievement of this pause will strengthen efforts to achieve an end to the conflict,” he said. 

“The people of Palestine, Israel and nations of the region must work together with the international community to entrench the rights, peace and sustainable development of the Palestinian people as part of the multilaterally endorsed two-state solution.” 


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