PRESS STATEMENT: Israeli Embassy in South Africa closes (and no one notices)

31 October 2019

The independent South African human rights and Palestine solidarity NGO, BDS South Africa, joins NEHAWU and fellow South Africans in celebrating the closure of Israeli diplomatic missions across the world, particularly the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria.

According to Israel’s Haaretz Newspaper, the Israeli Foreign Ministry earlier this year faced a $100 million budget shortfall, which led to several key national events being cancelled among other financial problems. The Israeli newspaper also reported that the Israeli foreign ministry had suffered severe budget cuts in recent years mainly as a result of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs channeling funds into the battle against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Last year the Israeli government dedicated approximately $72 million towards trying to stop the BDS movement. The writing is on the wall: apartheid is expensive and Israel must end it immediately!

It is apparent that the primary purpose of Israel’s foreign missions is to promote propaganda for the Israeli regime with no benefit to host countries – this is perhaps evident in no one even having noticed the Israeli Embassy’s closure! The Israeli embassy is proving, on its own, that it is indeed insignificant and irrelevant. It is clear that there is no economic or political benefit in having relations with an apartheid state.

BDS SA considers the closure of Israeli embassies and consulates as evidence that Israel is at war with itself. We are also amused and find it ironic that Israel shifted funds from its running of embassies to stop the BDS boycott of Israel, and now lacks resources to sustain those embassies. The closing of the Israeli embassy in South Africa, until the regime ends its oppression of Palestinians, is one of BDS South Africa’s goals – this recent closure, even if temporary, is a step in the right direction.

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Earlier this year South Africa downgraded relations with Israel. The South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation at the time explained: “Our Ambassador [to Israel] is back in South Africa and we will not be replacing him. Our liaison office in Tel Aviv will have no political mandate, no trade mandate and no development cooperation mandate. It will not be responsible for trade and commercial activities…The ANC’s position in relation to Israel is very clear. We have no relations with Israel.”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has referred to the move as a form of “pressure on the government of Israel…informed by our concern at the ongoing violation of the right of the Palestinian people to self determination and the refusal of the government of Israel to enter into meaningful negotiations.”

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