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Govt forges ahead with downgrading SA Embassy in Israel - Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa says government stands with the Palestinian people in their fight for self-determination but also recognises Israel's right to sovereignty.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: @CyrilRamaphosa/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa says government is moving ahead with plans to downgrade South Africa's Embassy in Israel in fulfilment of a resolution agreed to at the African National Congress (ANC)'s national conference more than a year ago.

Ramaphosa told Parliament that government stands with the Palestinian people in their fight for self-determination but also recognises Israel's right to sovereignty.

He said the decision was based on the continuing violation of Palestinian's rights and the Israeli government's failure to enter negotiations for a two-state solution.

Ramaphosa said International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and officials were “working feverishly” on effecting the decision to downgrade South Africa’s embassy in Tel Aviv.

“Our approach is informed by our concern at the ongoing violation of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and refusal of the government of Israel to enter into meaningful negotiations to find a just and peaceful resolution to this conflict.”

Ramaphosa said South Africa is concerned about the resurgence of conflict in the region and that the government is still open to play a role in helping to end it.

“The decision to downgrade the embassy in Israel is informed precisely by the violation of the rights of Palestinians and we are therefore putting pressure on Israel – but at the same time, we are saying we are willing to play a role and ensure there is peace [in the Middle East].”

Ramaphosa gave no indication when the downgrade will take effect. He said this will be made known once Cabinet has finalised the move.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)

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