South Africa Votes to Downgrade Ties With Israel


South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. (REUTERS/Esa Alexander//File Photo)

The Parliament of South Africa voted Wednesday to downgrade ties with Israel in what is a culmination of many years of rocky relations with Israel.

The measure was backed by 208 lawmakers, while 94 opposed it. The move will see Israel’s Embassy in the capital Pretoria downgraded to a liaison office. The measure was introduced by the National Freedom Party, which has two members in Parliament, to protest what it considers to be a policy of apartheid and discriminatory practices against Palestinians.

“This is a moment [Mandela] would be proud of. He always said our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestinians,” the left-wing party said in a statement Wednesday. “The state of Israel was built through the displacement, murder and maiming of Palestinians. And to maintain their grip on power, they have instituted apartheid to control and manage Palestinians,” read the statement, which continued: “As South Africans, we refuse to stand by while apartheid is being perpetrated again.”

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