The African National Congress (ANC), which is in power in South Africa, announced on Thursday that it would back a legislative vote that would close the Israeli embassy there.
In addition to proposing the motion later on Thursday, the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) will also demand the suspension of all diplomatic ties with Israel in support of the Palestinian people amidst the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza.
South Africa’s strong support for Palestinians dates back to former President Nelson Mandela’s days, with the country likening their plight to its own before the end of apartheid in 1994. Israel rejects the comparison.
“The African National Congress will agree to a parliamentary motion which calls upon the government to close the Israel Embassy in South Africa and suspend all diplomatic relations with Israel until Israel agrees to a ceasefire,” the ANC said in a statement.
The Israeli embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ANC’s remarks and the parliamentary debate.
Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas that rules Gaza have been at war for more than a month after militants rampaged through southern Israel on Oct. 7. In retaliation, Israel has enforced a strict blockade of Gaza and conducted an aerial bombardment and armoured ground offensive.
The EFF’s motion is largely symbolic as it will be up to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government whether to implement it.
But ANC leader Ramaphosa and senior foreign ministry officials have been vocal in their criticism of Israel’s leadership during its military campaign against Hamas, calling on the International Criminal Court to investigate them for potential war crimes.
Ramaphosa reiterated on Wednesday during a state visit to Qatar that South Africa was opposed to Israel’s operation in Gaza, “particularly as it is now targeting hospitals”.
South Africa earlier this month recalled its diplomats from Israel.