Gone are the days when African countries took the back seat on issues involving international relations and politics. Now, they are sticking their feet on the ground and making bold decisions that would no doubt raise some eyebrows – especially within the foreign community.
South Africa, through its Minister for International Relations and Co-operation, Lindiwe Sisulu has made a bold move that shocked the world.
The country has withdrawn its ambassador, Sisa Ngombane from Israel, and a bullish Lindiwe Sisulu says this is just the beginning of what will be a complete breakdown of its international relations with Israel.
She has further said that the withdrawal of the South African ambassador and closure of its embassy in Tel Aviv was a permanent move and just 'stage one' in downgrading relations with Tel Aviv. Thus, implying that the Middle Eastern country should expect more ‘fireworks’.
The minister made the announcement yesterday evening her address to the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) in Johannesburg.
Aware that Israel would follow suit and also withdraw its ambassador from South Africa, Sisulu said she would go steps further than what was experienced in 2017 when the South African government "to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to a Liaison Office".
Speaking on the issue during her address, she said:
“We are in the process of following the downgrade resolution of the ruling party and stage one has been completed.
“Our ambassador is back in South Africa and we will not be replacing him. Our liaison office in Tel Aviv will have no political mandate, no trade mandate, and no development co-operation mandate.
“It will not be responsible for trade and commercial activities. The focus of the Liaison Office would be on consular and the facilitation of people-to-people relations.”
“We are putting together a programme of downgrading our relations with Israel in line with the resolutions which were taken by the ANC.
“We have a programme put in place which we will place before the ANC in response to their demands and the resolution they have taken. And we will also look at the legal implications of the agreements we have currently with Israel if there are any. And any other administrative repercussions that come out of that.
“The first thing we have done is that we no longer have an ambassador in Israel. We now operate at the level of a liaison officer. So the liaison officer in Israel will deal with all the diplomatic matters in Israel.
“The ambassador in Israel in South Africa is still an ambassador here until such time as we have adopted fully the resolutions of the ANC conference.”
It is believed that Israel’s force on Palestine protesters, which has involved killings of unarmed protesters, is an underlining factor for the move.
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Header Image Credit: AllAfrica.com