South Africa’s ANC tells Israeli ambassador to “leave with immediate effect”

The African National Congress (ANC) was founded by Nelson Mandela.

The Youth League of South Africa’s ruling ANC party has told the Israeli ambassador to “pack his bags” and leave.

Israeli ambassador to South Africa, Arthur Lenk was told to leave the country by the ANCYL on Saturday.

Provincial convenor Muhammad Khalid Sayed said: “We call upon Ambassador Arthur Lenk to pack his bags and prepare for travel to avoid unnecessary trauma.

“We will support our leaders while they take necessary action and recall our ambassador to Israel and expel Israel’s ambassador to South Africa.”

Israel's ambassador to South Arica, Arthur Lenk was told to "pack his bags" and leave by ANCYL.
Israel’s ambassador to South Arica, Arthur Lenk was told to “pack his bags” and leave by the ANCYL.

The ANCYL said it welcomed the ANC’s parliamentary official statement that Sisa Ngombane to be recalled, and that Lenk be removed from the country with immediate effect.

Lenk was summoned to the Department of International Relations last week, and was told to inform his government about South Africa’s stance on the Israeli siege of Gaza, which has killed more than 600 Palestinians, mainly women and children.

Department spokesperson, Clayson Monyela said Lenk met with deputy international relations minister, Nomaindia Mfeketo, and was asked to explain the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.

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Monyela said Mfeketo expressed South Africa’s “grave concern” over the escalating Israeli violence in Palestinian territories.

Mfeketo demanded the immediate halt to the construction and expansion of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories by the Israeli government.

South Africa was due to recall Ngombane who had also been summoned to the department.

Monyela said no decision had yet been taken on whether Ngombane would be recalled.

Official ANC statement

The following statement was issued on July 18 by the Office of the ANC Chief Whip:

“The African National Congress is extremely outraged by the wanton and unjustifiable bombardment and killings of innocent civilians, including children, in the Palestinian territory of Gaza by Israeli military forces. We echo the widespread condemnation of these senseless attacks on defenceless Palestinians and call on the government of Israel to immediately cease this blatant act of criminality.

It is unacceptable that as the Israeli military is flagrantly violating the territorial integrity of Gaza, claiming hundreds of lives and injuring thousands, the United Nations Security Council fails to intervene decisively in line with its powers. The office of the UN Secretary General issued statements which have had no effect. The UN Security Council must stand up and act to support vulnerable Palestinian people at the time when they need their protection. The situation involving Palestine and Israel is an undeclared war, in which the aggressor, Israel, has destroyed the Palestinian economy, robbed people of their land, unilaterally changed borders, and unilaterally built a wall of exclusion to keep Palestinians out of their land. When it feels provoked, it unleashes the most sophisticated military hardware on a defenceless people. Palestinians have been reduced to cheap labour for the Israeli economy. This relentless destruction of Palestinian territory and its people by Israel must be stopped. The international community needs to act in unison on this matter.

Protesters during the pro-Palestinian march in Cape Town last week.
Protesters during the pro-Palestinian march in Cape Town last week.

As the ANC in Parliament, we stand unapologetically with the people of Palestine and pro-Palestinian campaigners in an endeavour to exert pressure on Israel’s government to comply with the UN Security Council resolutions and stop its killing and gross persecution of Palestinian people. We remain resolute in our view that the only long lasting peaceful solution to the situation in the Middle East is the attainment of a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine in which the two states exist side by side independently and peacefully.

Our strong condemnation of Israel’s violent aggression, however, does not in any way mean approval of the continuing firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel, which has put the lives of innocent civilians at risk. We echo the call by the South African government for both parties to end all forms of aggression towards one another.

The ANC in Parliament will mobilise other political formations in this institution to take a principled stand against the criminal acts of Israel and further to ensure that Parliament as an institution formally condemns the deadly violence visited upon the people of Palestine. We will also invite other parties to the lunchtime picketing outside Parliament in support of the people of Palestine and in calling for peace in the Middle East region. As one of the measures to put pressure on Israel, we are of a firm view that our government must recall our ambassador to Israel and also ask the Israel ambassador to South Africa to leave with immediate effect.

During this International Nelson Mandela Day in which South Africans and the world are called upon to engage in noble acts in emulation of the world icon, we align ourselves with his profound statement that “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.

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