Earlier this week, the government of South Africa decided to recall its diplomats from Israel to evaluate the state of its bilateral relationship with the country. This move was prompted by the escalating number of civilian casualties resulting from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Furthermore, South Africa has recently announced its intention to issue a démarche to the Israeli Ambassador. This comes after the Ambassador’s remarks regarding the war in Gaza, which have not only angered the government but also contradicted its officially stated position on the matter.

By Staff Reporters

South Africa is in the process of issuing a démarche, which is a formal diplomatic expression of protest, to Israel’s ambassador, Eliav Belotserkovsky, in light of his statements concerning the Gaza conflict. These remarks have not only angered the government but also contradict its officially declared position.

Belotserkovsky, a frequent contributor to South African media, has expressed support for Israel’s actions in Gaza, emphasising that their conflict is not directed towards the civilian population but rather against Hamas, which he describes as a “terrorist organisation”.

On October 23 Belotserkovsky told sabcnews.com: “We cannot have peace with terrorists.”

“Loudest of all is the insistence that Israel is somehow to blame. Even though it was Israel that was attacked in a most brutal way by Hamas on October 7,” wrote Belotserkovsky in businesslive.co.za on 1 November.

The director-general of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation in South Africa, Zane Dangor, stated on Wednesday that the démarche will be requested, ideally by today (8 November).

However, he did not provide any additional information regarding the timing of its submission. This information was conveyed to Reuters via a text message.

“The démarche will be asked for hopefully by today. Not sure when he will come in,” Dangor told Reuters in a text message.

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, on Monday, drew a parallel between the remarks made by Belotserkovsky and those made by US Ambassador Reuben Brigety. Brigety’s comments, which falsely accused South Africa of supplying weapons to Russia, caused significant controversy. However, an internal investigation subsequently refuted and disproved these allegations.

“We felt it important to call the ambassador in and really he should desist from making the kind of statements that he is making without having any discussion with senior members of the government of SA,” Pandor said on Monday without going into detail about the remarks.

“There seems to be a strange practice among some ambassadors in SA that they can just say what they like.

“I don’t know if it’s because we are an African country and they disrespect us but it’s something we should not tolerate,” said Pandor.

Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, the Minister in the Presidency, also stated that the cabinet noted with concern the “continued disparaging remarks of the Israeli ambassador to SA about those who are opposing the atrocities and the genocide of the Israeli government.

“The conduct and remarks of that ambassador are unacceptable. He is a guest in our country, he should conduct himself as a guest. He has no right to undermine South Africans and the leadership of SA. We are not threatened by him.”

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