Cabinet treads carefully on possible closure of Israel embassy

The government has not made a decision on the closure of the Israel embassy but expects the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue a warrant of arrest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for war crimes.

This was revealed on Monday by Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni at a media briefing held in Pretoria on outcomes of the cabinet meeting on Thursday.

Ntshavheni said the government has referred the ongoing war on Gaza in Palestine to the ICC, noting that it is still consulting with diplomats were recalled from Tel Aviv over a week ago.

Matter referred to ICC

“There is no cabinet decision to close the Israeli embassy. We have referred the matter to the International Criminal Court,” said Ntshavheni.

“Dirco [Department of International Relations and Cooperation] has also engaged the Israeli ambassador to South Africa.

“Cabinet reiterates the call made by African leaders for an end to the war in Gaza during the Africa-Saudi summit in Riyadh.

“The summit condemned the targeting of civilians and violations of international law by the Israeli government.

“Cabinet continues to be concerned by the new atrocities of the Israeli government against the people of Palestine, including deliberate attacks on the UN school in Gaza and the massacre of hundreds of children who sought refuge at the school.”

Atrocities committed with impunity

She said because of these atrocities committed with impunity with the support of powerful countries, South Africa together with Comoros, Djibouti, Bolivia and Bangladesh jointly referred the situation in Israel and Palestine to the ICC.

“South Africa believes the current atrocities need renewed attention. Our ambassador in The Hague has delivered the referral in person to the ICC, so that they investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide with a view of holding those responsible accountable,” she said.

“We expect that warrants of arrests for the leaders will include Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and they should be issued shortly.”

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