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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

Ramaphosa ‘has no backbone’ on Israel embassy downgrade

The downgrading of the SA embassy in Israel completely contradicted Ramaphosa’s own words on the subject, the Jewish Board of Deputies said.

The debate on the downgrading of the South African Embassy in Israel continues to rage, and both the Jewish community in SA and opposition parties have expressed disappointment that President Cyril Ramaphosa had somersaulted on using constructive means to resolve the issue.

The opposition parties said this was typical of Ramaphosa, whom they accused of always changing tune depending on the audience he was addressing.

DA national spokesperson Solly Malatsi told a hall filled with mainly Jewish community members that it was not surprising since Ramaphosa had “no backbone as a leader”.

Malatsi, who participated in the debate organised by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) on Thursday evening, echoed DA leader Mmusi Maimane, who reiterated his call for a two-state solution in Palestine.

Maimane slammed the government’s decision not to replace its ambassador to Israel and to downgrade its Israeli embassy to a liaison office.

The recent announcement by Minister of International Relations Lindiwe Sisulu, that South Africa’s ambassador to Israel, Sisa Ngombane, would not be replaced, solicited angry reactions from the Jewish community in South Africa and the majority of the opposition parties.

Ngombane was recalled in May last year after Palestinian protesters were killed by Israel security forces in Gaza.

The SAJBD, which represents the interests of South African Jewry, said the downgrading of the SA embassy in Israel completely contradicted Ramaphosa’s own words on the subject.

The board said twice last year the president had assured them at gatherings in Cape Town and Johannesburg that his government was looking to “play a constructive role that will bring all parties together, so that we find a solution to a problem that seems intractable in the Middle East.”

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