Recalling South Africa’s ambassador to Israel as has been announced by the Department of International Relations (DIRCO), will qualify as an important decision if it is part of a strategy to break all ties.
If not, then for all intents and purposes, the recall will be a shortlived symbolic gesture of solidarity with Palestine’s quest for freedom.
That the recall comes in the midst of Israel’s horrific bloodbath in Gaza which coincides with the Trump administration’s flagrant disregard for universally accepted international conventions on the question of Jerusalem, may make it sound more “dramatic” than it is.
The fact is that a resolution adopted during the ANC’s December conference calling for a downgrade of SA’s embassy in Israel and was unanimously approved, has yet to be implemented. In the absence of giving expression to the resolution, recalling the ambassador but allowing the embassy to function, may be interpreted as playing politics with the lives of innocent Palestinians.
Either South Africa post-apartheid is fully committed to Palestine’s freedom struggle or its not. If it is as many in the widespread solidarity movements would like to believe, the reality of an Israeli flag fluttering around Pretoria tells a different story.
It says in effect that nothing has changed.
Ties developed during apartheid between the National Party and Israel remain on track today, more than 20 years since we embraced democracy. Ties which include full diplomatic relations without any restrictions on trade, economy, cultural, social, sporting and worse of all, military.
Indeed the language of “2 states living side-by-side” is as archaic as the bluff used by apartheid to justify bantustans. It means that notwithstanding the enormity of criminal activities by Israel whereby landgrabs and settlements have become permanent “facts” in addition to the Occupation and denial of fundamental human rights, South Africa’s foreign policy has lost touch with the aspirations of Palestinians.
Unless the recall is a step leading to total isolation of the settler colonial regime in conformity with Palestine’s demands of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions – BDS, we at Media Review Network will remain wary of our country’s ability to hold Israel to account.
Executive Member: Media Review Network