The South African government is intending to cut diplomatic ties with Israel in protest of its treatment of the Palestinian people, the country’s Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor announced.
Pandor informed parliamentarians of the government’s resolution during a ten-hour joint debate on South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) that he delivered last week.
“The majority party has agreed, that government must cut diplomatic ties with Israel, given the absence of genuine initiatives by Israel to secure lasting peace and a viable two-state solution that includes full freedom and democracy for the Palestinian people,” she said.
The comments were made in response to opposition leader Kenneth Meshoe, who had argued that it was disappointing that national and provincial authorities in South Africa had refused help from Israeli companies to address the country’s current water crisis.
However, the proposal was applauded by parliamentarians and Pandor, who is expected to be appointed vice president in Ramaphosa’s new Cabinet, was given a standing ovation as she left the podium.
The government’s decision was further confirmed on the South African Parliament’s official Twitter account.
South Africa has been a staunch ally of the Palestinian struggle and regularly spoken out against the atrocities committed by the Israeli government.
Last month, the South African representative to the UN told the Human Rights Council that Israel is the “only state in the world that can be described as an apartheid state”, just days after the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party called for government ministers to strengthen the country’s visa restrictions with Israel.
Last year, the government also resolved to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to a liaison office, and cautioned Tel Aviv for blacklisting supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which included prominent figures of the ANC.
The BDS South Africa campaign has witnessed significant support from the nation’s public, with universities and churches backing a cultural and economic boycott of Israel affiliated organisations.