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‘South African Israeli Embassy ‘downgrade’ is regressive diplomacy’ – IFP

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The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has spoken against the government’s plan to downgrade and eventually close the South African embassy office in Israel.

In a statement released on Wednesday, 10 April 2019, the IFP criticised the government’s decision to downgrade and subsequently close the South African embassy office in Israel.

“The decision by the South African Government to ‘downgrade’ the South African Embassy in Israel to a liaison office is regressive diplomacy which does not advance the agenda of peace and stability in the Middle East,” the statement read.

Speaking at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) on Wednesday, 3 April 2019, in Johannesburg, Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Lindiwe Sisulu announced that South Africa had begun its programme of downgrading relations with Israel by permanently withdrawing its ambassador from Tel Aviv.

“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.” Sisulu said.

The IFP says the downgrade decision by the ANC is nothing more than an electioneering tactic ahead of the upcoming 8 May 2019 elections.

“Moreover, it is a decision that is nothing more than short term ‘electioneering’ on the part of the ANC without giving due consideration as to how this will impact South Africa in the long term in respect of not only maintaining a neutral two-state solution stance, but also in respect of South Africa’s beneficial trade, development and investment relationship with Israel.”

The party warned that the downgrade did not portray a good image of the country and worried that it would further contribute to tensions in the region.

“The downgrading of the South African Embassy in Israel does not inspire confidence and places South Africa in an awkward position wherein it can no longer be trusted as an honest broker, particularly when South Africa’s influence is most needed.

“The IFP further believes that no good will come from this ill-fated decision by government and that it will only compound tensions in the region. We maintain our position and call for calm, restraint and peaceful action within the prescripts of international law by both Israel and Palestine,” the statement said.

Abenathi Gqomo
[email protected]

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