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The Union Buildings, Pretoria, Government of South Africa

South African Jews furious about withdrawal of ambassador to Israel

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the SA Zionist Federation have expressed great anger with the South African government’s decision to withdraw the country’s ambassador to Israel following the attacks in Gaza.

Published: May 15, 2018, 10:32 am

    “The South African government’s decision to withdraw the South African ambassador from Israel is outrageous and displays gross double-standards against the Jewish state. While we, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the SA Zionist Federation, regret the loss of life of civilians, we recognise that Israel as a sovereign state has the right to defend its own border and its own citizens,” the two organisations said in a statement.

    The two entities said Israel “is facing a real danger with the incitement by Hamas of its own population to storm the security fence and attack Israeli civilians”, the African News Agency (ANA) reported.

    The South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the SA Zionist Federation said by withdrawing its envoy, South Africa was missing an important opportunity of playing a role in the conflict resolution.

    “By withdrawing its ambassador, South Africa is essentially walking away from playing any meaningful role in finding a sorely needed resolution to the conflict. The rhetoric used by the [South African] government has already spilled into antisemitic comment on various social media platforms and the biggest losers are the South African Jewish community, and other peace loving South Africans,” the two organisations said.

    “This is a victory only for extremism in the Middle East. We call on the South African Government to reconsider its decision immediately.”

    The South African government announced that it would withdraw its representative in Israel and it “condemns in the strongest terms possible the latest act of violent aggression carried out by Israeli armed forces” along the Gaza border.

    “The victims were taking part in a peaceful protest against the provocative inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem. This latest attack has resulted in scores of other Palestinian citizens reported injured, and the wanton destruction of property,” said the statement from Dirco.

    The Pretoria authorities added that the Israeli Defence Force must withdraw from the Gaza Strip “and bring to an end the violent and destructive incursions into Palestinian territories”.

    The African Union too has issued a statement condemning the “disproportionate use of force” by the Israeli army in response to Palestinian protests against the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

    Many Palestinians – some of them children – have been reportedly killed, shot dead by IDF soldiers and thousands more injured on Monday during the protests. The Palestinian Health Ministry, said Israeli troops shot and killed at least 58 protesters while some 2 700 people were injured.

    In the statement released on Tuesday, The AU strongly condemned the “disproportionate use of force by the Israeli army, which resulted in the killing of over 50 Palestinian demonstrators, while many more were wounded”.

    The AU said the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem would make a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more difficult.

    The AU reiterated “the solidarity of the African Union with the Palestinian people in their legitimate quest for an independent and sovereign State with East Jerusalem as its capital”.

    On 6 April 2017 the Russian foreign ministry put out a statement about Jerusalem.

    “We reaffirm our commitment to the UN-approved principles for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, which include the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state. At the same time, we must state that in this context we view West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

    On 27 May 2017 resolution S.Res.176 was submitted to the US senate and agreed to 5 June 2017.

    President Trump sent his daughter and son-in-law to Jerusalem for the opening of the new US Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday. His family applauded the death of Palestinians in Gaza.

    Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, spoke about the Gaza massacre at an event where he was invited to appear. He accused Palestinians of being the guilty party. “As we have seen from the protests of the last month and even today, those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution.”

    The White House omitted this particular sentence from its official transcript. But in its daily press briefing the White House denounced the “propaganda attempt” by Hamas and Palestinians.

    On social media Ivanka Trump and Jared Kusher were called out for celebrating the opening in the wake of the deadly violence.

    Israel has meanwhile threatened to kill Hamas leaders if the riots continue, the Times of Israel reported. It has warned Hamas that it will resume assassinations of the terror group’s leaders if Hamas continues to organize demonstrations on the Gaza border.

    Some 40 000 Palestinians had rallied in a “March of Return” protest, against the US embassy move.

    On December 21 2017, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the non-recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Some 128 countries voted for the document, 9 against, and 35 abstained. The resolution was adopted by a majority vote despite threats from the US to stop financial support for those countries that supported it.

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