A protester and member of South Africa's ultra-left Economic Freedom Fighters party (EFF), carries a placard outside the Israeli embassy in Pretoria, South Africa.
(photo credit: SIPHIWE SIBEKO/REUTERS)
In a new move, South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress, decided to downgrade the country's embassy in Tel Aviv to a "liaison office."
The decision was announced at the ANC's National Conference in Johannesburg late on Wednesday night.
"The ANC's National Conference, the highest decision making body of our organization, has unanimously resolved to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to a liaison office."
The resolution, which the ANC adopted, reads: "In order to give our practical expression to the oppressed people of Palestine, the ANC has unanimously resolved to direct the South African government to...immediately downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel.
"We concur with the PLO leader, Jibril Rajoub, who was at our conference where explained that the downgrade of the SA Embassy in Israel will send a clear message to Israel that there is a price to pay for its human rights abuses and violations of international law.”
Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas sent delegations to attend the ANC National Conference "to observe the processes of democracy within the ANC and are especially interested in a debate at the conference regarding a recommendation from the ANC’s July policy conference which proposed the downgrading of the South African embassy in Israel."
A source said that International Relations Subcommittee met with and discussed the issue with ANC delegates attending the conference for over three hours on Tuesday evening and that an overwhelming majority were in support of the downgrade.