Tue, 05 Dec 2023

The African National Congress said it could not support the "genocidal actions of the Israeli regime"

South Africa's ruling party has said it will support a motion to sever diplomatic relations with Israel and shut down its embassy in Pretoria. South African officials have condemned Israel's assault on Gaza, even calling for a formal war crimes probe.

In comments on Thursday, African National Congress (ANC) spokeswoman Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said the party would approve legislation to cut ties with Israel until it agreed to a ceasefire, originally introduced by leftist opposition faction the Economic Freedom Fighters.

"We cannot sit back and watch the genocidal actions of the Israeli regime," the spokeswoman said. "The African National Congress will agree to a parliamentary motion which calls upon the government to close the Israel embassy in South Africa and suspend all diplomatic relations with Israel."

On Wednesday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that he had referred Israel for a war crimes investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC), noting that the recommendation was brought "together with many other countries." His administration had previously cited "the refusal of the Israeli government to respect international law," and "genocidal airstrikes" on Gaza.

While Ramaphosa did not name the other states behind the complaint, South Africa is among a growing list of nations to scale back diplomatic ties with Israel over its bombing campaign, which has killed more than 11,500 Palestinians over several weeks, according to local officials.

Earlier this month, Bolivia said it had cut relations with the Jewish state after accusing it of "crimes against humanity," a move mirrored by Belize and Bahrain. Chad, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Jordan and Trkiye, meanwhile, have each recalled diplomats from Israel. South Africa later followed suit, pulling diplomatic staff out of Tel Aviv "for consultation."

Pretoria has long voiced support for the Palestinians, and the ANC has likened Israel's decades-long occupation of Palestinian land to South Africa's experience with apartheid - a two-tiered legal system designed to keep the country's white minority in positions of power and influence.

READ MORE: Child killed every 10 minutes in Gaza - WHO chief

Israel launched its military campaign against Hamas in Gaza in response to the Palestinian militant group's October 7 attack, which killed some 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians. The Israeli army maintains that it does not deliberately target non-combatants and is doing all in its power to minimize civilian casualties.

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