SA to downgrade embassy in Israel, withdraw ambassador

15th May 2018 By: African News Agency

SA to downgrade embassy in Israel, withdraw ambassador

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu

Foreign Minister Lindiwe Sisulu on Tuesday said the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) was having continuous consultations with President Cyril Ramaphosa on the downgrading of the South African embassy in Israel after Monday's carnage in Gaza.

Deadly fire from Israeli soldiers left at least 60 Palestinians dead and more than 2 400 wounded. Israeli soldiers opened fire on tens of thousands of Gazans - protesting the US moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the right to return to their homes in Israel - near the Gaza-Israel border.

By 3.30pm Monday the violence carried out by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) had escalated and by 5pm South Africa had responded with the African National Congress passing a resolution recalling its ambassador to Israel and calling for the downgrading of the embassy.

Sisulu said South Africa remains extremely concerned about the situation in Gaza and has been trying to mediate the crisis in that region.

She also said she had called on her counterpart in the US to find out if they would reconsider their decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem given recent developments, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, unfortunately, it was already too late.

The government is still to work out the modalities for the downgrading of the embassy and will give an update once there is finality on this issue.