JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party said on Thursday that it would support a parliamentary motion calling for the Israeli embassy in South Africa to be closed and diplomatic relations to be suspended.
The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) proposed the motion on Thursday in solidarity with the Palestinian people over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.
South Africa’s strong support for Palestinians dates back to former President Nelson Mandela’s days, with the country likening their plight to its own before the end of apartheid in 1994. Israel rejects the comparison.
The ANC said in a statement it would support the motion “to close the Israel Embassy in South Africa and suspend all diplomatic relations with Israel until Israel agrees to a ceasefire and commits to binding United Nations facilitated negotiations whose outcome must be a just, sustainable and lasting peace”.
The Israeli embassy did not respond to a request for comment on the ANC’s remarks.
Gift of the Givers, a South African non-governmental organisation which has operations in Palestine, said it fully supported the motion in parliament, after it said its office head in Gaza was killed by Israeli forces.
Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas that rules Gaza have been at war for more than a month after militants rampaged through southern Israel on Oct. 7. In retaliation, Israel has enforced a strict blockade of Gaza and conducted an aerial bombardment and armoured ground offensive.
The EFF’s motion is largely symbolic as it will be up to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government whether to implement it.
But ANC leader Ramaphosa and senior foreign ministry officials have been vocal in their criticism of Israel’s leadership during its military campaign against Hamas, calling on the International Criminal Court to investigate them for potential war crimes.
Ramaphosa reiterated on Wednesday during a state visit to Qatar that South Africa was opposed to Israel’s operation in Gaza, “particularly as it is now targeting hospitals”.
South Africa earlier this month recalled its diplomats from Israel.
(Reporting by Anait Miridzhanian, Carien du Plessis and Bhargav AcharyaEditing by Alexander Winning and Angus MacSwan)