The World Jewish Congress has strongly condemned the endorsement of a resolution by South Africa’s ruling party to downgrade the country’s embassy in Israel.
CEO and executive vice president Robert Singer warned that the move would have “negative repercussions for South Africa and simultaneously undermine prospects for advancing peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians.”
On Wednesday night, the African National Congress announced that it had decided to downgrade the status of the country’s embassy in Tel Aviv. The decision was announced at the party’s National Conference in Johannesburg.
The party cited US President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as well as the desire to give practical expression and support to the oppressed people of Palestine as reasons for the decision.
In a statement, Singer said: “The World Jewish Congress stands with the South African Jewish community in opposing this decision that is brimming with double standards and dangerous implications.
“It is wholly disconcerting that the ANC has given in to the political manipulation being driven by forces whose sole and unapologetic interest is to delegitimize the State of Israel,” he said. “This decision amounts to more than just the downgrade of an embassy and the essential strategic and diplomatic ties represented within. It is also a downgrade of support for the local Jewish community and a folded hand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Singer explained that this decision would also have a negative impact on the Jewish community’s sense of belonging within the fabric of South African society, “on political, social, and religious levels, and will limit access for both Christians and Jews to essential religious materials and educational opportunities.
“Moreover, it relieves South Africa of any credible ability to play a role in brokering peace between the Israelis and Palestinians,” he said.
The WJC added that South Africa is seen by the world as a case study in the efficacy of engaging in dialogue and negotiations to resolve even the most seemingly intractable conflicts, a process that is so necessary for Israelis and Palestinians at this time.
The country’s “disengagement will perpetuate any political impasse and mark a grave departure from its strong and measured diplomatic approach,” Singer said.