President Ramaphosa meets with SA Jewish Board of Deputies

South Africa – Thursday, December 14, 2023

President Cyril Ramaphosa has met with the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) at the Presidential residence Mahlamba Ndlopfu in Pretoria .

This is according to a statement released by the Presidency on Wednesday evening .

The Presidency said the SAJBD asked the President to, among other things, “restore full diplomatic recognition of Israel” .

In November, South Africa recalled its diplomats from Israel for consultation following the ongoing deadly conflict between that country and Palestine .

Soon after, Parliament backed up this stance and adopted a motion calling on government to close the Israeli embassy in South Africa and suspend diplomatic relations with that country .

Reports have suggested that the conflict has claimed the lives of at least 18 000 people in Gaza alone with over 1000 killed in Israel since the outbreak of the conflict in October .

Now, according to the Presidency, the SAJB has petitioned the President to:

Restore full diplomatic recognition of Israel, including the re-opening of the South African embassy in Tel Aviv and provide assurances that the Israeli embassy in Pretoria will not be closed to enable the return of the Israeli Ambassador to South Africa
Speak and/or act against the boycott of Israeli and Jewish businesses in South Africa
Protect the South African Jewish community against anti-Semitic incidents and/or attacks

The Presidency said in response, President Ramaphosa “reiterated the South African government position on the current conflict in Israel and Palestine” and that government:

Stands with the people of Palestine who have endured over seven decades of apartheid type of brutal occupation
Condemned the attacks carried out by Hamas on 7 October 2023 on Israeli citizens, including women and children
Calls for all hostages to be returned
Condemns the genocide that is being inflicted against the people of Palestine, including women and children, through collective punishment and ongoing bombardment of Gaza
Calls for the International Criminal Court to investigate all the atrocities and war crimes committed in Israel and Palestine and to hold all those responsible to account
Calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities to allow for more humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza and;
Calls for the resumption of negotiations between Palestinians and Israel that will lead to a two-state solution along the 1967 internationally recognised borders with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine

“President Ramaphosa indicated that the South African diplomats based in Tel Aviv will remain in South Africa for consultations during the current state of conflict, however, the government will endeavor to make available all the necessary support that is required by South African citizens in need of assistance .

“The President further emphasised the government’s denunciation of anti-Semitic behavior towards Jewish people in South Africa, including the boycott of Jewish-owned businesses, and Islamophobia .

President Ramaphosa called on all South Africans to remain true to the tenets of the country’s constitution .

“All participants appreciated the opportunity to engage openly and frankly and committed to continue seeking solutions to the issues of concern that were raised and to the devastating and intractable conflict in the Middle East,” the statement concluded .

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