Pandor says Israel embassy poised for downgrade but unions want shutdown

By Al Qalam Reporter

As the 14th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) event draws to a close, the Minister of Higher Education, Naledi Pandor, said the country was now poised to downgrade the SA embassy in Tel Aviv in terms of the resolution adopted by the ANC during the party’s conference in December – but two powerful unions say it’s not enough and want a total shutdown.

Speaking at the University of Cape Town – as part of the countrywide Israeli Apartheid Week programme – Pandor said the resolution should not be construed as an anti-Israel resolution but a “pro-Palestinian resolution”.

Pandor said since the commitment by the ANC to downgrade the SA Embassy in Tel-Aviv, Israel was shaken.
“The reality is that Palestinians were promised a fifth of the land as part of the Oslo Accord, and today control a little more than a tenth of historic Palestine. This is the reality confronting the people of Palestine today.”
She said current conflicts in the Middle East has pushed the Palestinian question off the global radar screen, “but it will come back”,” she added.

“To end the 100 years of conflict, all sides need to reach an understanding that neither had prevailed through violence and oppression. Peace will be possible by sharing the land.”
She urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sit down with the Palestinians and negotiate a settlement. She said the “right time is now and not tomorrow”, adding that Palestinians are suffering immensely and the world had become used to it. She said she was hopeful Palestinians would be free in our lifetime.


Meanwhile two powerful unions – The National Education Health & Allied Workers Union NEHAWU and The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA – have strong issued statements in support of the Palestinian struggle during Israeli Apartheid Week.

“As NEHAWU, we call on all peace loving people from across the world to intensify steps towards a complete boycott and international sanctions to isolate apartheid Israel. Furthermore, we commit ourselves to fighting for the total emancipation of the Palestinian people and pledge to redouble our efforts to ensure that Palestine is freed from apartheid Israel oppression. We are more than convinced that our efforts will form part of the building blocks of international solidarity that will allow for a movement towards freedom.

“The national union continues to reject the announcement by US President Donald Trump of East Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and the transferring of his embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. As NEHAWU, we continue to recognise Jerusalem as the capital city of Palestine that is currently occupied by Apartheid Israel.
“We reiterate our call for the immediate and unconditional support for the total shutdown of the South African Embassy in Tel-Aviv. We also call on all our members and workers, who themselves are beneficiaries of an international solidarity struggle to support and advance this position, that enjoys the support of majority of provinces of the ANC.”

Meanwhile, Irvin Jim, NUMSA’s General Secretary, has demanded the immediate release of Ahed Tamimi (17) who has become an icon of the Israeli struggle. The teenage activist was arrested after slapping an Israeli soldier at her West Bank village of Nabhi Saleh which is under Occupation.

“NUMSA condemns the Apartheid state of Israel and its illegal detention of Ahed Tamimi. We call on all progressive working class formations locally and internationally to condemn and expose the ruthless Israeli government for its brutality. NUMSA supports the working class of Palestine as they struggle for equality and justice, and Hlanganani, our region in Tshwane, has committed itself to launching a campaign against the oppressive Israeli state.

‘Having experienced Apartheid, we condemn the oppressive government of Israel. We will never forget that it was the Israeli government’s close military ties with the South African Apartheid Regime that prolonged Apartheid and the oppression of the masses of South Africa. Neither will we forget that it was our Palestinian comrades who supported our liberation struggle, at a time when many had deserted our liberation movements. We demand the release of all Palestinian political prisoners immediately, especially child prisoners. We demand that Israel ends its occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and that it dismantles the Apartheid Wall.

“We will continue to denounce the occupation of Apartheid Israel in Jerusalem. We reject the announcement made by Donald Trump earlier in the year to declare East Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the decision to transfer the U.S embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. We demand the total shut down of the Israeli Embassy in South Africa and for diplomatic relations between the two countries to be severed.”

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