Citing ‘apartheid,’ South African parliament votes to downgrade diplomatic ties with Israel

The ANC “obsesses over Israel, which is the size of our Kruger National Park, and at the same hosts navy war drills with Russia.”

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

South Africa’s parliament voted last week to approve the downgrading of diplomatic ties with Israel, in a move seen as having little legislative but important political significance.

The vote — endorsed by 208 MPs, with 94 voting against — places a symbolic seal on the motion approved by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) at its Dec. 2017 conference to downgrade South Africa’s Embassy in Tel Aviv to the status of a liaison office.

That decision, which was strongly condemned by South Africa’s Jewish community, was taken in the presence of representatives of Hamas, the Islamist terror organization that rules Gaza.

The parliamentary vote meanwhile requires the South African government to inform Israel of the change if it is to be implemented. The government has made no statement so far regarding its intentions, South African news outlets reported on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s motion was submitted by the National Freedom Party (NFP), a tiny center-left party that holds two seats in South Africa’s 400-seat parliament, with the backing of the ANC.

In a statement hailing the vote, the NFP claimed that “the State of Israel was built through the displacement, murder, and maiming of Palestinians.”

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It added: “And to maintain their grip on power, they have instituted apartheid to control and manage Palestinians. As South Africans, we refuse to stand by while apartheid is being perpetrated again.”

Israel condemned Monday’s vote. “At a time when many African and Muslim countries are strengthening and deepening ties with the State of Israel for the benefit of everyone’s common interests, it is unfortunate that South Africa continues to adhere to anachronism and the deterioration of relations, a move that will only harm South Africa itself and its standing,” a statement from the country’s foreign ministry declared.

The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) similarly slammed Tuesday’s vote, accusing the ANC of having “created a foreign policy that aims to befriend dictatorships and bash democracies.”

The ANC “obsesses over Israel, which is the size of our Kruger National Park, and at the same hosts navy war drills with Russia, responsible for horrific war crimes and the deaths of thousands of innocent Ukrainian civilians over the past year,” the SAZF pointed out in a statement.

Apartheid — the Afrikaner word for “separation” — was a legally based system of racial segregation that prevailed in South Africa for most of the 20th century, entrenching the rule of the white minority population of 10 percent over the Black majority of 90 percent. Black South Africans were severely restricted in their educational and job opportunities, were confined to overcrowded, unsanitary townships, were forbidden from entering into relationships with white people and were banned from voting.

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Despite the absence of similar legislation in Israel, the ANC and its allies have insisted on labeling the Jewish state as an “apartheid” state where Jews hold similar privileges to those enjoyed by white South Africans prior to the abolition of apartheid in 1994.