Jewish community quizzes Ramaphosa on embassy downgrade

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa has faced questions from the Jewish community at Rosh Hashana celebrations in Cape Town.  

The president was quizzed on the decision to downgrade the South African embassy in Israel. 

The chief rabbi has slammed those who've described Israel as an apartheid state. 

Rabbi Warren Goldstein said "to accuse Israel of apartheid is a libelous defamation of the Jewish state and an insult to the victims of the real apartheid".

In the past, the ANC has been clear about its solidarity with Palestine and called Israel an apartheid state. 

READ: Jewish board slams SA's recall of ambassador to Israel

Goldstein asserted: "It's in South Africa's best interest to form strong ties with the only free, democratic country in the entire Middle East."

Ramaphosa called for peace in that region.  

"We are clear in our support for the achievement of a Palestinian state, alongside the right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and security with its neighbours," he said.

He also used the moment to allay fears about land reform.

"It has instilled a lot of fear in a lot of South Africans who are current owners of property.

"We would like the land reform process to unfold within the framework of the Constitution and to be underpinned by the rule of law. It should be implemented in a way that broadens economic opportunity."

The economy and working together to get out of the recession were also discussed. 

Muhammed Desai challenges Jamie Mithi on his previous statements that to call Israel an Apartheid state is an insult to black South Africans.