Cabinet ‘hasn’t decided to close the Israeli embassy’
Ntshavheni rubbished suggestions the Israeli ambassador has been expelled from South Africa.
Police at the entrance to the embassy during the EFF picket at the Israeli embassy in Lynnwood Gardens Estate, Pretoria, 23 October 2023 in solidarity with the people of Palestine. Picture: Neil McCartney / The Citizen
Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says cabinet has not discussed the possible closure of the Israeli embassy in SA amid the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel in Gaza.
The region’s Hamas-run health ministry claims more than 13 000, mostly civilians and thousands of children, have died in the nearly two months of fighting. The ANC is among those who have called for the closure of the Israeli embassy in SA, with an EFF-sponsored motion to do so approved by parliament last week.
ALSO READ: ‘Hands off Naledi Pandor’- Fikile Mbalula
Speaking at a post-Cabinet briefing on Thursday, Ntshavheni said Cabinet had not considered the matter yet.
“Cabinet has not decided to close the Israeli embassy. We have a separation of power in this country. Parliament can give guidance and Cabinet will have to decide, having considered all matters at play.
“We have not had that discussion. We are not in a hurry to have that discussion yet.”
248 MPs voted to sever diplomatic ties with Israel and close the embassy, to 91 against it. It was supported by the African National Congress (ANC), the National Freedom Party (NFP), Al-Jamah, the African Transformation Movement (ATM), the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC).
The vote came hours after Israel’s Foreign Ministry recalled its ambassador to South Africa, Eliav Belotserkovsky, for consultations. The SA government had issued a formal diplomatic protest note over Belotserkovsky’s remarks about the Gaza conflict.
Ntshavheni rubbished suggestions the ambassador had been expelled.
“The Israeli government has recalled their ambassador, it was not us that expelled him. We never had the intention to do so.”
She praised the recent ceasefire in the conflict to allow the exchange of hostages, saying government hoped it would present an opportunity for “a more permanent solution”.