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By Martin Williams

Councillor at City


The ANC is wrong about the Israel case

Unlike SA, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are looking after their national interests, which require a reassessment of hostility with Israel.


Several Arab countries have been low-key about the Gaza conflict which preoccupies the governing party. Why? Unlike our people, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Qatar are looking after their national interests, which require a reassessment of historically hostile relationships with Israel. ALSO READ: SA to approach UN Security Council after ICJ’s Israel ruling “They put their economic interests, their political influence and their countries’ stability at the forefront of their diplomatic stance,” according to Prof William Gumede of Wits University’s School of Governance. Gumede wrote in a Sunday newspaper: “The three countries are at the centre of…

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Several Arab countries have been low-key about the Gaza conflict which preoccupies the governing party.

Why? Unlike our people, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Qatar are looking after their national interests, which require a reassessment of historically hostile relationships with Israel.

ALSO READ: SA to approach UN Security Council after ICJ’s Israel ruling

“They put their economic interests, their political influence and their countries’ stability at the forefront of their diplomatic stance,” according to Prof William Gumede of Wits University’s School of Governance.

Gumede wrote in a Sunday newspaper: “The three countries are at the centre of a new Middle East, in which they are surging ahead of their neighbours economically…”

This trend gained momentum with the signing of Abraham Accords in 2020, when Donald Trump was US president. During successor Joe Biden’s term, economic and military ties between the US, Israel, and Israel’s neighbours have increased.

Arab states hosting US military bases include Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar. The presence of US bases in the Middle East was highlighted on Monday when at least three US military personnel were killed and scores injured during a drone attack on an installation in Jordan, near the borders with Syria and Iraq.

ALSO READ: ICJ ruling amounts to ceasefire, ‘Israel interpreting verdict differently for sake of propaganda’ – Lamola

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent Middle East tour is part of this strengthening of ties between Israel and its neighbours.

So, too, visits by top security officials, including the CIA. It is in this realm that negotiations over hostages and ceasefires are conducted. Not on social media or in international courts.

The Abraham Accords – and the relative softening of some states’ opposition to Israel – are bad news for the ANC’s friend Iran and Iran’s surrogates Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis.

It is not impossible that the 7 October, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel was designed to disrupt what appeared to be rapprochement between formerly implacable enemies, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Iran does not want Saudi Arabia to get closer to Israel. With the largest economy in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is a big player.

ALSO READ: Amnesty International says Israel must comply with ICJ order to prevent genocide in Gaza

Having voted against the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, Saudi Arabia has long been implacably opposed to the Jewish state.

Yet, although Saudi Arabia still does not recognise Israel’s sovereignty, there have been moves to improve relations, with the US acting as mediator.

This process has been interrupted. Israel’s response to the 7 October attack by Hamas has proved unpopular on the streets of Saudi Arabia. A poll last month found that 96% of Saudi participants believed Arab nations should cut all ties with Israel, 95% of Saudis did not believe Hamas killed civilians during its attack on Israel.

These results suit Iran’s aim of isolating – and seeking to eliminate – Israel.

While this may delight the ANC, it does not accord with what former ANC president Nelson Mandela said in 1993: “We insist on the right of the State of Israel to exist within secure borders, but with equal vigour support the Palestinian right to national self-determination.”

A more balanced approach by the current ANC might beneficially align SA with the new Middle East which, Gumede, says is surging ahead, rather than with the wreckers.

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