The ANC v/s Israel: Ambassador wants dialogue amid calls to shut his embassy, eject him – and boycott Israeli goods

Relations between the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the State of Israel are at a new low after the ruling party’s deputy secretary-general Nomvula Mokonyane called for the Israeli embassy in South Africa to shut its doors; the ambassador to leave his diplomatic station; and a boycott of all goods imported from Israel. But Israel’s Ambassador in South Africa, Eli Belotsercovsky, does not “see any reason” for “boycotting or condemnations or all sorts of very heated expressions and manifestations”. Belotsercovksy says: “I think we can talk, we can work out our misunderstandings or differences of opinion….We don’t agree with the official position on what is happening in Gaza. We completely disagree with it, but it doesn’t mean that we cannot talk about it.” Meanwhile, the ambassador vows that Israel will ensure that there is going to be “no terrorists left in Gaza”. – Chris Steyn

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:00 – Introductions
  • 00:32 – On calls from the ANC to close the Israeli embassy, send ambassadors home
  • 01:58 – On engagements with the ANC
  • 02:38 – On the possible impact of a boycott of Israeli goods into SA
  • 03:26 – What is currently happening in Gaza
  • 06:19 – On communications between Hamas and the Israeli government on hostage situation
  • 07:21 – Update on happenings at the Lebanon border
  • 08:27 – Update on troop movements
  • 08:52 – Latest death toll numbers
  • 09:57 – Israel’s bottom line on Hamas
  • 10:13 – Ends

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Highlights from the interview

Relations between the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the State of Israel are at a new low. 

But Israel’s Ambassador in South Africa, Eli Belotsercovsky, believes their “differences of opinion” can still be worked out.

He speaks to BizNews after ANC deputy secretary-general Nomvula Mokonyane called for the Israeli embassy in South Africa to shut its doors; the ambassador to leave his diplomatic station; and a boycott of all goods imported from Israel.

“…I think Israel and South Africa, they are two democracies. I don’t see any reason why to go to the field of boycotting or condemnations or all sorts of very heated expressions and manifestations,” Belotsercovsky says.

“I think we can talk, we can work out our misunderstandings or differences of opinion. We respect the government of South Africa. We don’t agree with the official position on what is happening in Gaza. We completely disagree with it, but it doesn’t mean that we cannot talk about it.”

Reacting to the charge that the ANC government found the Israeli leadership in South Africa to be arrogant and unwilling to engage on Gaza, Belotsercovsky said: “…I’ve been here for almost two years now. And I have always been in favour of conversation, of a dialogue, of talking with the leadership, with the people, and we are very open towards this. And we are open for any kind of meetings, conferences regarding any issue, and of course, also what is happening in Gaza…”

Read more: Islamic Extremism can be defeated with “ruthless and relentless” action

In his update on the escalating conflict back home, the Ambassador calls on humanitarian aid organisations allowed into Gaza to ensure that some of that aid also reaches the Israeli hostages. He says there are more than 200 hostages, “among them, babies as young as nine months old that were separated from their parents, that most of them were killed…”

Asked if there has been any communication between Israel and Hamas on the hostages, Belotsercovsky says: “…there is no way we are going to talk to the Hamas. And we are going to destroy the Hamas in Gaza in order to defend our citizens and in order to provide the people of Gaza freedom that they are deprived now because of the Hamas rule.”

In other developments, on the border with Lebanon, Israel has seen “significant involvement of Iran through its proxy”, the Hezbollah. 

“They are constantly warming up the front, the border between Israel and Lebanon. And they are firing rockets. They try to penetrate. They send gangs of Hezbollah terrorists into Israel. They try to attack Israel also from the North. But we are ready. These attacks have been repelled and we are constantly watching what’s happening in the North front. 

“And if Hezbollah is going to attack Israel on a larger scale, unfortunately it’s the people of Lebanon who are going to pay the price. Lebanon is going to get involved in this war, although they don’t want it, they don’t have a conflict with Israel, but they are hostages of Hezbollah that is trying to drag the country Lebanon and Iran into the war.”

Meanwhile, the death toll form the terror attack on 7 October is mounting. “…unfortunately, every day we hear about new casualties that were discovered, people that tried to hide in different places and were shot…Some of the bodies have still not been identified. We have funerals of whole families…We have 21 children, very young children, that lost their parents. They remained orphans basically, because the parents were killed, but they managed to save the children.”

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