Downgrade of SA Embassy in Tel Aviv welcomed – COSATU

Federation says decision sends message to world that apartheid was not good for SA and is not good for Palestine

COSATU welcomes the downgrade of SA Embassy in Tel Aviv

9 April 2019  

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the decision by the South African Government to implement the decision to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to the level of a liaison office.

This decision was taken by the ruling party the ANC sixteen (16) months ago and was long overdue for finalisation. We commend and applaud the Minister in the Department of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu for boldly carrying this through. The completion of the implementation of step one of the processes of a downgrade couldn’t have been announced at a more perfect time than the Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).

We believe the downgrade will send the message to the rest of the world that Apartheid was not good for South Africa and it is not good for Palestine. This action has the potential to galvanise support in advancing peace in the Middle East. 

South Africa is the most qualified country if not the only in the world that knows every aspect of what apartheid. We have experienced it and we still feel its effects to date. South African government should not be shy or apologetic about implementing this decision. 

South Africa has done its best in the past in engaging all the parties involved and we see this as the first step forward in calling apartheid Israel out something the whole world knows but have no will to stop. We strongly believe that the world has no choice but to act in unity with South Africa in brokering a meaningful way forward that will bring about sustainable solution between the two.

We note the utterances by the Jewish Board of Deputies in their attempt to divide the ruling party and the South African Government in its decision by trying to isolate Minister Sisulu.

It should be noted that this is the decision of the ANC and we do not believe there have been any contradictions between the President and the Minister in this regard; we condemn this attempt to confuse everyone. South Africa is not a confused state.

We cannot be held at ransom in the name of investment and trade, this is a matter of principle, and South Africa must no longer be complacent on the matter. We need to lead in ensuring the world stop looking away but call this out both through international law and isolating the apartheid regime of Israel. The world isolated the apartheid regime in South Africa, what’s stopping the world doing the same with Israel.

We congratulate the solidarity movement for a successful Israeli Apartheid Week 1-7 April 2019. We reaffirm our support for the people of Palestine in their bid for self-determination, their peace and security.  We continue to mobilise support for the BDS campaign and we hope for resolution on the matter in the very near future. South Africa is not free until Palestine is free.

Issued by Sizwe Pamla, National Spokesperson, COSATU, 9 April 2019