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All for Gaza ceasefire, but EFF motion to cut ties with Israel may be a step too far for ANC

All for Gaza ceasefire, but EFF motion to cut ties with Israel may be a step too far for ANC
EFF leader Julius Malema protests at the Israeli Embassy on 23 October 2023 in Pretoria. (Photo: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu)

International Relations Deputy Minister Candith Maseko-Dlamini agreed that calls for the Israeli embassy’s closure ‘have merit’, while fellow ANC MP Hope Papo said the EFF motion had to be amended to succeed. After a heated debate, the ANC has until Tuesday’s vote to settle its party line.

The thing about Parliament is that it comes with its own rules, processes and practices that put the spoke in political spin.

No decision was scheduled following Thursday’s parliamentary debate on the EFF motion calling upon “the government to close the Israeli Embassy in South Africa and suspend all diplomatic relations with Israel”. 

That vote will only come in a full sitting of the House on Tuesday, 21 November.

But these parliamentary niceties give the governing ANC the weekend to finalise what International Relations Deputy Minister Candith Mashego-Dlamini on Thursday described as engagements and discussions.

“Our government is in discussions on the matter of closing the Israeli embassy in Pretoria and we’ll need to take into consideration that it may affect our diplomatic presence in Palestine.

“The demands from South Africans for the closure of the Israeli embassy in Pretoria have merit…” said Mashego-Dlamini.

“(T)he government is engaging all relevant stakeholders regarding our diplomatic relations with Israel, given the war crimes and genocide we are witnessing in Gaza.”

Freedom Front Plus Chief Whip Corné Mulder bluntly told the deputy minister there would be “definite, direct implications” for the six South African diplomats stationed in Ramallah, Palestine. They would lose their diplomatic status, would have to live in Ramallah rather than Jerusalem, as they do now, and enter Palestine via Jordan.

“If you expel the Israeli ambassador and cut all diplomatic ties with Israel, SA will not be in a position to play any role whatsoever in terms of any mediation or any chance to play a constructive, positive role to bring this conflict to an end,” said Mulder.

“Not one Arab country which has diplomatic ties with Israel – Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, United Arab Emirates – has severed diplomatic ties with Israel despite what’s going on.”

Mulder added that South Africans would see on Tuesday whether the government would “do the right thing” and continue diplomatic attempts to solve this conflict.

ANC ‘open for engagement’

It was part of the verbal sparring and barbs lobbed across the virtual platform over the motion brought by EFF leader Julius Malema, expertly timed given South Africa’s positioning on this Middle East war.

eff israel anc

Protesters at the Israeli Embassy on 23 October 2023 in Pretoria. (Photo: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu)

In many ways, the motion rides on the back of strong public sentiment across South Africa that Israeli bombing and targeting of hospitals was disproportionate to the 7 October Hamas killing of 1,400 Israelis and the abduction of over 200 civilians.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Israel-Palestine War

But as Mashego-Dlamini’s statement showed, the motion also puts the government – keen to see itself as an international player and negotiator – on the back foot.

ANC MP and Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s parliamentary counsellor, Hope Papo, highlighted some of those dynamics, emphasising that “we should not move alone” and end up isolated in southern Africa and on the continent.

“This is why, whilst we support the essence of this motion, we are open for an engagement with the EFF so there could be some amendments…

“We will not close the embassy and cut diplomatic relations without putting conditions to that.

“If you do that (cut ties) full stop, then we close the opportunity for continued engagements with other stakeholders… and (lose) the ability to have influence on the situation,” said Papo.

He emphasised that amendments to reflect conditions were needed, “otherwise the motion will not be carried”.

So, unless the ANC and EFF get together before Tuesday’s vote to resolve sticking points, this motion is unlikely to succeed.

It wouldn’t be the first time. In February 2018, the ANC supported the EFF motion for expropriation without compensation, also after some fine-tuning.

As Mulder drily pointed out in Thursday’s debate, “The EFF took the initiative, and the ANC will have to follow.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: Gift of the Givers backs motion seeking closure of Israeli embassy following Gaza office head killing

That debate unfolded in the wake of the ANC and its alliance partner, the labour federation Cosatu, throwing their support behind the EFF motion – without mentioning the EFF.

Or, as Luthuli House put it in an ANC statement just ahead of the debate, “… the ANC 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 and commits to binding United Nations facilitated negotiations whose outcome must be a just, sustainable and lasting peace.”

In a statement, Cosatu’s international desk called on political parties in Parliament “to act decisively against the apartheid state of Israel for the horrifying war crimes against the people of Gaza and the whole of Palestine…”

A day earlier, President Cyril Ramaphosa, during an official visit to Qatar, announced that South Africa joined “many other countries across the world” to refer Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“We have put through a referral because we believe that war crimes are being committed there. And, of course, we do not condone the actions that were taken by Hamas earlier, but similarly, we condemn the actions that are currently under way and believe that they warrant an investigation by the ICC,” said Ramaphosa in a video clip released by the Presidency on Wednesday.

This effectively was in line with International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor’s statement to the House a week earlier, days before the Israeli ambassador to South Africa, Eliav Belotserkovsky, was démarched in the sternest rebuke short of expulsion. 

Pandor’s stipulations for addressing the conflict were repeated on Thursday – an immediate ceasefire, urgent humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, a UN protection force, and the investigation of Hamas for holding civilians hostage.

The debate also included condolences to Gift of the Givers. The group’s Gaza representative since 2013, Ahmed Abbasi, was, according to a statement on Facebook, “ directly targeted by the apartheid Israeli forces” as he and his brother returned from morning prayers.


Those moments of condolence stood in stark contrast to the point-scoring and often acerbic debate disrupted by frequent heckling.

Despite a point of order, Al Jama-ah leader Ganief Hendricks got away with saying, “Those who support the genocide in Palestine, like the DA, Action SA and ACDP… they behave like vampires.”

IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa had earlier called for an immediate ceasefire, saying “the war must stop”, but argued against cutting diplomatic ties as this would isolate South Africa and leave the country unable to contribute to peace negotiations.

DA MP and international relations spokesperson Emma Powell used her time at the podium, regardless of the EFF’s points of order, to try to poke holes in the ANC’s foreign policy stance, pointing out South Africa’s abstention in the UN over Sudan, where three million children are among the seven million displaced by war.

“If the ANC cared about human rights or international law, it would not have remained silent in the face of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.” 

In closing the debate, Malema sharply criticised fellow opposition parties but tactically opened the door to the ANC for another set of discussions.

“We are not opposed to amendment of any motion as long as, at the end of the day, we agree that the Israeli ambassador is dismissed,” said Malema.

How that unfolds will emerge in the vote in the House on Tuesday. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Little red ridinghood. Cute.

    • Denise Smit says:

      Ramaphoza refers to the 7 October terrorist brutal killings of 1400 Israelis as “actions” , let me remind you this took place in a few hours, and 240 people were taken hostage, but he calls the Gaza war “genocide”. The peace loving Gift of the Givers say the death of their worker was “deliberate”. Gift of the Givers always so mediating and peace loving also do not condemn the “actions” of 7 October and the lives of the 240 hostages is of no concern to them. Are they not known for mediation or is it reserves for non-Jews? Denise Smit

      • William Dryden says:

        I totally agree with your comments, no one condemned the genocidal indiscriminate killing of Israeli’s by Hamas, and we still do not know who killed the gif of the givers personnel. As for Malema, he is just stirring the pot to cause chaos.

    • Denise Smit says:

      Their funders perhaps?

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      Good news!

      You have 1500 characters in which to let us all know the absolute truth about the Gaza situation and define neatly who is right and who is wrong. You also get to ridicule all those other – obviously – incorrect perspectives, and to explain to us the actual proper solution to the problem.

      So, lets hear it …I almost can’t contain my excitement!

  • Ken Shai says:

    The only way there will be an end to war of Gaza is if Netaniyahu is removed from power. It can happen quite readily, since 76% of Israeli population are against him now, and he is facing criminal charges of corruption on top of that. He is considered responsible for the lack of preparedness by majority, and the main reason of all the war crimes Israel is committing now in Gaza is that Netaniyahu wants to create a militaristic environment where he can stay in power. So any pressure from South Africa, such as closing the embassy and referring Netaniyahu to ICC may help the opposition to remove Netaniyahu from power, and until he is removed there is no point of any discussions with Israel of any sort. ANC is doing the right thing!

    • Ben Harper says:


    • Pieter van de Venter says:

      Really – this war has raged LONG before Bibi became prime minister and will rage many decades after he is removed.

      • Ken Shai says:

        But the war before Bibi never rose up to the level of genocide as now. And it was unnecessary, because if hostages were an issue, Hamas was ready to exchange them all for Palestinian prisoners in Israel. Israel was seizing Palestinian hostages over 6000 all along without any trials and imprisoned them in high security prisons indefinitely, so naturally Hamas wanted to release them and the only way to get them released was to seize Israeli hostages and then exchange, and that is what they attempted. Bibi was dead set against the exchange and he even blocked release of double citizens that Hamas was ready to do. What Israel is doing now is damaging for Israel, but it may be the only calculated way for Bibi to remain in power, and that is overriding consideration by far.

        • Graeme de Villiers says:

          If ONLY people would take the time to understand the definition of genocide and it’s completely inappropriate and inaccurate usage in this whole debacle. Virtue signalling at its best.

          • Shaun Slayer says:

            VERY true Graeme. Genocide = acts committed with intent to partially or wholly destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. It says NOTHING about terrorists.

          • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

            “Genocide”, “Nazi”, “Apartheid”, “Occupation”

            How many more appropriated words, purposely turned through 180, will we merit to see?

            “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it” – Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Propaganda Minister

        • Malcolm Mitchell says:

          You appear to be very selective in your morals, as is the ANC and EFF. What about discussing the many instances in African countries were human rights were not respected and up to hundreds of thousands people were slaughtered? Be brave and defend this if you can – if you do not we know you are only pontificating.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    Julius and his ANC brothers and sisters are hypocrites and racists. Where is their protest against the war crimes in Sudan. Have they EVER objected to the butcher of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, murdering thousands of those opposing him? There are many more examples that they are quiet about.
    You either have a sense of justice through which you look at what is going on in the world or you are a political opportunist with a one-sided view.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Don’t you armchair analysts get it yet?

    You are all suffering from subjective biase of terminal proportions.

    None of us actually has a clue about the objective reality.

    So please do us all a favour and shut it.

  • cjg grobler says:

    The Hamas-run health ministry is Gaza’s official source for death numbers – which it updates regularly. On Monday evening, it said 11,240 people had been killed, including 4,630 children, since the Hamas attacks on Israel on 7 October which prompted the current war.
    South Africa average number of murders over the past 10 years 20000 last year alone 27496
    Our hospitals are fast approaching the same destruction as in Gaza and like Gaza South African children are dyeing of hunger.

    • Ben Harper says:

      The very same health ministry that claimed Israel killed 500 in an attack on a hospital which actually turned out to be a Hamas rocket launched towards Israel but malfunctioned and fell into a car park across the road from the hospital and killed no more than may 10 people? You referring to that health authority?

  • Steve Marks says:

    Malema is just looking for the Moslem vote. He couldn’t point out Gaza on a children map. Ukraine , Sudan, Syria and other death zones are staring him and the anc in the face as they beg for some recognition from these despots. The ganief character from the whatever party almost chocked on his scarf trying to make his Islamist point. It’s all about Jews and attacking the only Jewish state trying to defend its citizens after the hamas Isis barbarism.

  • Dr Know says:

    Nice kitchen towel Juju! Pep Stores alongside Carl?

  • Steve Marks says:

    Why would Israel target the head of a charity in Gaza? That is patent garbage. If he was running guns or assisting hamas the he would be a legitimate target. If he was just doing the gift of the givers thing there would be no point in eliminating him.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      Re your last question … that goes for the numerous journalists , health workers, UN staff etc also ? The simple reason provided by the Israeli regime (not population at large) … is that there are NO ‘innocent’ Palestinians … and that includes any of their ‘supporters/sympathisers’ . Assassination/elimination of all/any ‘supporters’ is an acceptable … nay preferred method of dealing with issues – like our apartheid regime did with ANC supporters.

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      unless you stop reading the Israel book from the last chapter towards the beginning you will not understand what the rightwing Israel state was doing in the Westbank settlements and how many Palestinians lost their lives, one piece of advice try to wear all the shoes of the people involved then you will have a balanced view of how we got here sadly innocent Israeli and Palestinians lives are being lost and mostly defenceless Palestinians, the Israelis are shocked because its rare for them The Palestinians stopped counting

      • John Smythe says:

        How are they defenseless? They voted in a military party with lots of guns and missiles. They aren’t defenseless. Hamas has bitten off more than it can chew. And now the world is shouting foul because Isreal has declared war against a government representing the people who voted them into power.

    • Yahya Atiya says:

      Lmao. Israel doesn’t need an excuse to kill. They target people wearing big black letters that say “MEDIA”. Give me a break from your blind endorsement of this simple and straightforward genocide.
      You are trying to whitewash SEVENTY FIVE YEARS of oppression, land dispossession and apartheid.
      I see lots of South Africans don’t like that label – coincidentally, they’re all white, and former beneficiaries of apartheid, whether directly or indirectly.

  • JP 22 says:

    The ANC and EFF should watch the interview between Hasab Yousef (son of a founding member of Hamas) and Pierce Morgan. There they will learn the truth. Hamas (not the Palestinian people) must be eliminated.

  • Please, get your own corrupt government in order, before you lay rotten eggs Infront other parts of the world.

  • Jennifer D says:

    I find it incredible that any politician in SA has the gall to say a single word about any other countries activities, right or wrong, considering what they are up to right in their own back yard. Here we sit with over 27000 people murdered this past year. Not to mention the 43000 reported rapes. Malema and Ramaphosa need to look internally before they have the gall to say one word about any other country. Fix your own problems and then look at commenting on others!

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Jennifer D – agree 100%! What an insult to Islam and any other religion for the matter to have this Godless racist rabblerouser and bully/thief donning on the headgear. This odious individual is nothing but a crass opportunist and flip-flopper who will use anything to promote his nefarious, sinister and wicked agenda in this country.

  • Jehan Bektir says:

    A ceasefire would be a victory for the terrorists’ strategy.
    Civilians in the warzone are free to protect their own lives by fleeing from the crossfire areas.

    • Yahya Atiya says:

      Really? So that Israel can bomb them as they leave, like they’ve been doing? They attacked a convoy moving South as instructed. They attacked refugee camps IN THE SOUTH. Pray tell, where would you like them to go?

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      Flee to where exactly because Israel is blocking them from leaving the enclave and bombing them at the same time, the only exit is the Rafah exit to Egypt which is blocked by Israel they can only drown in the sea which best serves Israel’s purpose

      • John Smythe says:

        Israel isn’t blocking them. Egypt doesn’t want them. They’re rabble-rousers and troublemakers and Egypt has had to expel Palestinians from Egypt because. Jordan want them either for the same reason. Lebanon accepted them many years ago when they fled Jordan. And look at the state that once prosperous country is in now with the evil hezbollah in charge there. So, do a little reading to enlighten yourself before making misleading calls comments.

  • Betsy Kuhn says:

    wish this coward can dissapear

  • Pieter van de Venter says:

    Just get Julius a white horse and maybe he can claim to be an Arab warrior!!

    Now we really have a local Hamas branch in SA!!

  • Andre Swart says:

    Hamas terrorists attacked Israel on October 7 and STARTED A WAR!

    Many people (11500) have died during this war between Hamas and Israel.

    But neither the ANC nor the EFF lift a finger (or shout from a podium for cheap publicity) to stop the brutal killings of +- 25000 local South Africans EVERY YEAR!

    I wonder why the killing of Arabs in a war far away from SA, evoke such STRONG action from the EFF and ANC but they DO NOTHING about the 25 000 brutal murders of our own SA citizens?

    Is it because black lives don’t matter to the EFF and ANC?

    Devious, unscrupulous cadres with selective morality?

    • Bob Kuhn says:

      He hasn’t any to select!

    • Michael Thomlinson says:

      Hypocrites at their best – both the ANC and EFF. Russia attacked Ukraine with no provocation other than the fanatsies that Putin has in his mind, killing thousands of Ukarainians (and Russians) and destroying whole towns and villages. In all of this not one word of condemnation from either party! But let Israel take vengence for a shamefull, brutal, cowardly attack by HAMAS and they are full of indignation and readily condemn Israel. A British journalist, Douglas Murray, commented that it was the most brutal attack on civilians that he had ever witnissed (and he has covered a number of war zones). One must not forget that HAMAS started the fight and has been targeting Israel for years with daily rocket attacks. What was Israel supposed to do, turn the other cheek? HAMAS is ultimately and fully responsible for Israel’s backlash and the resultant destruction of Gaza and loss of Palestinian lives. HAMAS should bear full responsibilty for this and be hauled up in front of the ICC and not Israel. HAMAS has also blatantly stated that it’s goal is to wipe out the state of Israel (and I would think that is so that they can take over the fertile region that Israel has created) where Israel has made no such statements about the Palestinian people.

      • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

        Go back read the history of Israel then come and comment, for a short course for free google Westbank settlements then you will learn what Israel has been doing there believe me your comments will change

        • Moyaki San says:

          Palestine was fertile farming land before Israel was invented in 1948 and Palestinian farmers were ethnically cleansed like the Tantura and Beit Yassin massacres among many.

    • Yahya Atiya says:

      Nothing started on 7 October. Or are you suggesting 75 years of context be ignored? Seventy five years of dispossession, eradication, dehumanisation, apartheid. All gone. Just like that. Never happened. Sounds a lot like Holocaust denial to me, just on a different foot.

      • Stan Han says:

        Nothing started on 7 October – really? I got news for you…as soon as you’re ready to stop clutching your pearls.

      • Leslie van Minnen says:

        Deny all you want. Your cowedly brothers in HAMAS and your beliefs that only Muslim lives mean anything are the problem. The murdering of children and baby’s started this war. Your comrades haven’t the balls to fight soldiers. Hide behind human shields. Now they create weapons of war in Mosques.
        Less than human.

  • Bob Kuhn says:

    Malema couldn’t find Israel on the map and as a marxist christian should reacquaint himself with history, starting at the book of Genesis.

  • Paul G says:

    Another day another crazy comment by Julius. Does he know that under Muslim rule he would not survive very long? They are trying to distance themselves from democratic countries so that they can unleash their communist dystopias on unsuspecting and somewhat uneducated South Africans.

  • Jon Do says:

    SA/ANC government is a joke
    They should rather focus on their issues at home.

  • Shaun Slayer says:

    That ever so powerful Afrikaans word Apartheid 😉 Funny how they looove using it to no avail.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    I’m not sure that having the tellytubby in thief come out on support of your cause is a positive.

  • Jon Quirk says:

    Erecting straw man and then publicly burning same, is as old as the hills, and, as ever, the real motive and reason is deflection and distraction.

    The actions of the ANC, together with the EFF, have made South Africa the polecats of the World, as we tiptoe the edges of toppling over as we become a failed state, joining, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, and a few others, in, what will be decades of real misery for all citizens, except the head honchos in the ANC, and of course Ju-Ju, sustained as he has been for at least the last decade by his pet tobacco-smuggling and tax avoidance gangster.

    We all get judged, in the end by the company we keep, and the smell of rotting flesh as our erstwhile “leaders” as they now seek to deflect, is a particularly unedifying sight – and smell.

    Pass the sick bag, Alice as Private Eye was won’t to say, at times of extreme hypocrisy.

  • Steve Du Plessis says:

    Forrest Gump comes to mind. Stupid is as stupid does

  • Dov de Jong says:

    I wonder if Big Julie knows that his Hamas Besties also slaughtered fellow Tanzanian Africans on October the 7th , maybe he wants to ignore that inconvenience, as that would spoil the current narrative. Also confusingly Big Julie from the EFF is wearing a RED kefiyah. Now everybody knows that the Jordanian Hashemite army wears red kefiyahs as they are Bedouin, they do not particularly like Palestinians who always wear black kefiyahs, in fact they killed a lot of them in the past. So is Big Julie actually a Bedouin friend sharing their love of the Desert and so on ? One wonders what Big Julie is planning to spring on Ramathingy.

  • Alexis Kriel says:

    Do you think Israel cares if South Africa closes its embassy here? Hamas is seen as “liberators” of an “apartheid regime”. That’s why they never get mentioned as a thorn in the side of the Palestinian people. There are massive divisions amongst Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam. Hamas is in an alliance with Iran and Iran purposefully mastered the Hamas slaughter of innocent Israeli’s so that the peace accord between Israel and Saudi Arabia would be destroyed. The only hope for the Palestinian people is for Hamas to be rooted out and for a moderate government to take their place. Israel is willing to make peace, but not as long as their extermination is on the agenda. Sorry for that.

  • Gerrit Marais says:

    One does and say silly things when intellect is not at play.

  • Truth Hurts says:

    The hypocrisy of the Anc government and their stooges the Eff is astounding! When “apartheid” Russia bombed, killed, and even abducted the children of Ukraine, they sided with the aggressor, Russia! 7 October 2023, Hamas carried out a daring operation killing many innocent civilians in Israel and even abducting her children! What was Hamas thinking Israel response was going to be? Lie down and let it slide? No way! Hamas knew what they were doing and must also be condemned in the strongest terms for carrying out terror activities during these times! Israel has the right to defend herself against its aggressors, as much as Ukraine has that same right. The way the morality of both the Eff and the Anc changes, depending on which country is the aggressor is sickening! Israel must not end the cleaning of the Gaza Strip, until all the Hamas vermin is eliminated! Next year as South Africans, we are going to eliminate the vermin called the Anc and Eff from our government! We will try to vote them out! They have turned our country into a global joke with their communist ideogies! The world doesn’t need this aggravation!

  • Sarah Gaylard says:

    Please correct the death statistics. The Israeli government brought the figure of 1400 down to 1200. Please also state the number of Palestinians that have been killed by the IDF, as otherwise this article appears to have a pro-Israel stance and I’m sure you would like to be as objective as possible. Currently over 13,000 Palestinians have been killed by the IDF since 7 October (of which at least 5.500 are children), and 5000 people are missing, probably dead or dying a slow death under the rubble.

  • Johannes Viljoen says:

    The Almighty God of Israel, who just happens to also be the King of the Entire Universe, will make South Africa a ten times bigger DUNG HEAP, than it is at present, if said motion to dismiss the Israeli Ambassador to South Africa, succeeds, at all, in Parliament. Bank on it! I stand with said God and with the modern descendants of His ancient people, Israel. Even though I am a South African myself, I will be 100% in His Corner when He will tear this land of ours to pieces for its’s stance on Israel.

  • Leslie van Minnen says:

    Oh please, the spineless president and his useless comrades should keep the clap trap to themselves. Do they even know what genocide is? Have the looked at SUDAN lately. Have they considered what the maniac Putin is doing to women and children. Of course Israel and white colonist South Africans are the cause of the worlds problems. Lets forget China, Russia, Iran North Korea, baby murderers HAMAS as well as the Islamic Jihadists and ISS. I just wish idiots like the ANC and EFF would grow up and try sorting the mess that that have created. No comment on the crime stats by Mr. spineless president.

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