(JTA) — South Africa will not reinstate its ambassador to Israel, despite pressure from Jewish groups in the country.
In May, South Africa recalled its ambassador, Sisa Ngombane, “until further notice” after Israeli troops killed more than 50 Palestinian protesters and wounded hundreds during protests at the Israel-Gaza border, part of the so-called Great March of Return that has been ongoing since mid-March. The violence reached a peak on May 14 with the dedication of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
“I’m very glad that I recalled the ambassador because we could have not been in the situation that we are at now,” International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu told the local media last week during a briefing in Pretoria, SABC news reported. “It’s been a violation that has been going on for a long time, and we can’t be looking away. We are holding back on our ambassador until we are certain that we are making headway. For us this is an unacceptable situation, completely unacceptable.”
Ngombane has served as ambassador to Israel since early 2013.
The ruling African National Congress party recently called for the downgrading of the South African Embassy in Israel, which is located in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, due to what it said was the “lack of commitment from Israel on Palestine.”