South Africa to downgrade its embassy in Tel Aviv to a liaison-office

A national conference of the country’s ruling party, the African National Congress, ordered the government in Pretoria to downgrade diplomatic ties with Israel and to immediately and unconditionally replace the embassy in Tel Aviv with a liaison-office, in a move it declared “aims to show solidarity” with what it called “the oppressed people of Palestine.” Representatives of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction and the Islamist Hamas organization attended the conference. During the conference, the representative of Fatah, Jibril Rajoub, urged the South African government to take additional steps against Israel in order to send a clear message to its leadership, that there is a price to pay for what he said were “Israel’s ongoing human rights abuses and violations of international law.” Israel’s Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem declined to comment on the South African order, telling TV7 that it was studying the decision.