According to media reports, South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), “given the unfolding atrocities in occupied Palestine …” is backing the country’s opposition party’s motion to shut down its embassy. The ANC said in a statement it would support the motion “to close the Israel Embassy in South Africa and suspend all diplomatic relations with Israel until Israel agrees to a ceasefire and commits to binding United Nations facilitated negotiations whose outcome must be a just, sustainable and lasting peace.”
Add to that, the country’s president Cyril Ramaphosa called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Israel for war crimes in Gaza. Ramaphosa reiterated recently during a state visit to Qatar that South Africa was opposed to Israel’s operation in Gaza, “particularly as it is now targeting hospitals.”
The ANC’s support for the motion in parliament by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema—that South Africa should cut diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv and close Israel’s embassy—comes with an amendment. According to Reuters news service, “it wants the motion amended to allow some form of diplomatic channels with Israel to remain, so that South Africa maintains its ability to talk to both sides and influence the situation.”
Parliamentarians will vote soon on the motion, in which Malema called on President Ramaphosa’s government to “shut down the Israeli embassy in Pretoria and end all diplomatic relations with the brutal apartheid Israeli regime.”
South Africa’s longstanding support for the rights of Palestinians dates back to former President Nelson Mandela’s days, with the country likening their plight to its own before the end of apartheid in 1994.
During Malema’s closing remarks concerning the proposed closing of the Zionist state’s embassy, he also emphasized placing an arms embargo to prevent the Paramount Group, Africa’s largest arms dealer, from selling arms to or through Israel. The Paramount Group is located in Gauteng, about 20 minutes from Johannesburg.
South African activist Patrick Bond said to Truthout.org, “In addition to making noise on the street, we have to target the actual arms dealers and companies who are facilitating Israel’s genocide in Palestine.”
A University of Johannesburg academic, Bond has studied the Paramount Group for many years, noted Truthout.org. “Paramount has indeed supplied armored vehicles to one of the Israeli Defense Forces core military contractors, Elbit Systems,” he told the outlet.
Elbit, which is based in Israel, has collaborated with Paramount by distributing armored vehicles that Paramount produces and that Elbit equips with digital technology, reported Truthout.org, a progressive nonprofit news organization specializing in a diverse range of social justice issues.
The outlet reported that Paramount “has made its money through involvement in armed conflicts across the world, by selling weapons, military equipment, technology and vehicles, and through defense contracts to dubious actors. This includes governmental and paramilitary forces involved in ethnic cleansing in Kazakhstan, state repression in Saudi Arabia, and fighting that provides cover for oil extractivism in Mozambique.”
In addition, Paramount trades arms through their Tel Aviv office, where they pay taxes and registration fees and Paramount’s Vice President for Europe, Shane Cohen, was a lieutenant colonel in the Israeli Army, the outlet reported.
Julius Malama concluded his statement to parliament by emphasizing the need for his country to withdraw embassy staff from Tel Aviv and Israel. “We fully agree that (political) parties such as the Democratic Alliance Party (DA) will never understand the suffering of the people of Palestine because they’ve never been in the condition those people find themselves in—(suffering the remnants of apartheid).”
The modern-day DA is in large part a product of the White parliamentary opposition to the ruling ANC Party. DA’s support of Israel has historical roots. Historically liberal or so-called “moderate” parties and individuals in South Africa have been the most consistent pro-Israeli political voice in the country.
Being emphatic as to why the DA party—which opposes a coalition between the ANC and EFF—will not support closing the Israel Embassy, Malema stated, “If anything they’ve benefited from the suffering and the pain of others. And they will not immediately relate to what’s happening in Palestine.” He added, “We know what is forced removal. We know what is land occupation.
We (are) still living with land occupiers who come here and want to tell us about political point scoring and political opportunities. We cannot be lectured about human rights by the beneficiaries of the butchering of our people. People who still wish to be at the table to contend to perpetuate what they used to do … . Fact that they do not have the experience of being a victim of apartheid they will never support this. Why should it come as a surprise?”
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