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South Africa expected to return Israel envoy soon

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (JTA) — South Africa’s ambassador to Israel is to return "within two to three weeks," a South African Jewish group said, citing a government official.

The South African Union of Jewish Students in a statement issued June 9 cited a spokesperson for South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Co-operation.

The ambassador was recalled in protest of the interception by Israel of a Gaza-bound flotilla, which resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish passengers. Turkey was the only other country to have recalled its ambassador in response to the incident.

The students’ union on June 8 presented a memorandum to government spokesperson Saul Molobi expressing its "utter dismay and outrage" at the government’s decision.

"Yesterday was a victory for Jews, South Africans and all those concerned with creating a human rights culture in South Africa," the statement said. "We will be keeping a vigilant eye on this claim and if necessary will be back to make our voice heard again."

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies, the South African Zionist Federation and the Office of the Chief Rabbi had issued a statement June 3 expressing their "profound disappointment" at the decision to recall the ambassador, calling it "premature and inappropriate."

"As South African citizens," the statement said, "we call upon our Government to adhere to an even-handed policy on the situation in the Middle East and to give due weight to Israel’s legitimate security concerns."

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