South Africa has minimised its relations with Israel, turning its diplomatic mission into a liaison office and not sending a new ambassador to Tel Aviv.
In a recent address to the South African Institute of International Affairs in Johannesburg, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu announced that “stage one has been completed” in lowering ties with the Israeli regime.
South Africa, she said, had demoted its Tel Aviv embassy to a liaison office with limited functionality and would not replace its envoy to Israel, who was recalled last May in protest at Israel’s deadly crackdown on Gaza anti-occupation protests.
“Our Ambassador is back in South Africa and we will not be replacing him,” Sisulu said at her speech, which was published on her office’s website on Friday.
“Our liaison office in Tel Aviv will have no political mandate, no trade mandate and no development cooperation mandate. It will not be responsible for trade and commercial activities. The focus of the Liaison Office would be on consular [services] and the facilitation of people-to-people relations,” she added.
In December 2017, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party decided to downgrade the country’s mission in Tel Aviv in an expression of “practical support” for the oppressed Palestinian people, warning Israel that it should pay the price for its “human rights abuses and violations of international law.”
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