South Africa to call in Israeli envoy for formal reprimand


Johannesburg (Reuters) – South Africa will call in Israeli ambassador Eliav Belotsercovsky to issue him with a “demarche”, or formal reprimand, a senior foreign policy official said on Wednesday.

“The demarche will be asked for hopefully by today. Not sure when he will come in,” Zane Dangor, the director-general of South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation, told Reuters in a text message.

Dangor gave no further details of the demarche, a protest issued through diplomatic channels, and did not specify the reason for the reprimand.

South Africa criticised the ambassador this week over public comments he made, but did not specify what he had said.

South Africa has also recalled its diplomats from Israel to assess its relationship with the country as civilian casualties rise in Israel’s war with the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“The ambassador of Israel has been making a number of comments … without having had any discussion with senior members of the government of South Africa,” Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said on Monday.

“I don’t know if it’s because (this is) an African country and they disrespect us, but it’s something that we should not tolerate.”

Israel’s embassy in South Africa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

South Africa has long been an advocate for peace in the Middle East and has rallied behind Palestinians, likening their plight to South Africa’s before the end of apartheid in 1994. Israel has rejected criticism that it has established a system of apartheid.

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