By John Ikani
South African parliamentarians have voted decisively to shut down the Israeli embassy in Pretoria and suspend all diplomatic ties.
The move reflects the enduring criticism of Israel within the ruling African National Congress, which wields substantial influence in the legislative body.
The motion, supported by 248 votes to 91, demanded the embassy’s closure and the suspension of relations until Israel commits to a ceasefire and engages in meaningful negotiations.
Amid the vote, enthusiastic members voiced their support with chants of “free, free Palestine.”
In response to the escalating tension, Israel recalled its ambassador for consultations, citing “South Africa’s pro-Palestine rhetorics” as the impetus for the move.
Earlier, President Cyril Ramaphosa, aligning with the sentiment prevalent in the ANC, not only referred Israel to the International Criminal Court for potential war crimes but also took the unprecedented step of recalling South Africa’s diplomats from Israel.
At a virtual Brics summit, President Ramaphosa minced no words, accusing Israel of engaging in genocide in Gaza and condemning the collective punishment of Palestinian civilians.
Israel, on the other hand, maintains that its military operations in Gaza are acts of self-defense with the primary goal of eliminating Hamas.