Hamas welcomes downgrade of SA embassy in Israel


Hamas supporters take part in a rally marking the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Islamist movement, in Gaza City, on December 14, 2017.

JOHANNESBURG – The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) has welcomed the resolution adopted at the 54th National Conference of the African National Congress (ANC), which calls for the downgrading of South Africa’s diplomatic relations with Israel.

The final declaration of the conference said: “Delegates endorsed the proposal that we must give practical support to the oppressed people of Palestine and resolved on an immediate and unconditional downgrade of the SA embassy in Israel to a liaison office”.

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Responding to the move, Hamas said in a statement: “We commend the members, branches, provinces and other structures of the ANC for this determined decision which expresses the solidarity of millions of South Africans with the people and struggle of Palestine.”

The ANC resolution at the just-ended conference followed a great deal of debate sparked by a recommendation of the ANC’s policy conference in July, which called for the South African embassy in Tel Aviv to either be shut down or downgraded.

“We salute ANC members and activists in South Africa’s Palestine solidarity movement who worked tirelessly to ensure that the recommendation was well understood by ANC members and delegates to the conference, and who convinced South Africans that it was the correct moral and ethical decision for their country,” added the resistance organisation.

“We salute the South African people for their sumud (steadfastness) in support of the Palestinian people and we are proud to be associated with the members of a movement such as the ANC, which took such a strong stance against Zionist oppression.”

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Together with the delegates at the ANC conference, we now call on the ANC in government to heed the call from the ruling party’s members and to downgrade its diplomatic links with the Zionist apartheid state, added the Hamas statement.

ANC agenda ‘captured’ by activists

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the South African Zionist Federation has strongly condemned the move, saying it amounted to “betrayal.”

Both bodies questioned the motive behind the “discriminatory move” against the Israeli state, saying it will impact on South Africa negatively.

“This downgrade will do nothing for the Palestinian people and have a detrimental effect on South Africans.  We further question the motives of organisations and individuals who have managed to “capture” the ANC’s international relations agenda, including the BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions],” the statement read.

The groups charged that it appeared like the “ANC’s foreign policy formulation process was hijacked by forces that had a limited interest.”

“South Africans will be economically poorer: A downgrade will negatively affect the South African economy by jeopardising, to name but a few: trade, tourism, access to hi-tech and water technology,” the document further read.

It called for an end to the “vilification” of Jewish state.

Additional reporting eNCA