(MENAFN) In a move reflective of escalating diplomatic tensions, Israel has recalled its ambassador to South Africa, Eli Belotserkovsky, for consultations. The decision comes in the wake of a diplomatic rift between the two nations concerning the conflict in Gaza. Last week, South Africa's ruling party signaled its support for a motion to sever diplomatic ties with Israel and close its embassy in Pretoria.
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on Monday, citing "recent comments from South Africa" as the rationale behind Ambassador Belotserkovsky's departure from Pretoria. The development occurred shortly after South African Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni announced that Pretoria had called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by mid-December.
South Africa, a long-standing supporter of Palestinian sovereignty, has been vocal in its opposition to Israel's bombing campaign in Gaza. Local officials claim the campaign has resulted in the death of more than 11,000 Palestinians. Israel declared war on Hamas in October, responding to an attack by the Palestinian militant group that reportedly killed approximately 1,200 people.
Last week, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa characterized Israel's assault on Gaza as genocide and called for a war crimes investigation. He disclosed that Pretoria, along with several unspecified countries, had referred the Israeli government to the ICC for a formal probe.
In solidarity with this stance, South Africa had already recalled its ambassador and diplomatic staff from Tel Aviv.
Notably, several other nations, including Bolivia, Belize, Bahrain, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, and Turkey, have also recalled their diplomatic representatives from Israel.
The widespread diplomatic fallout underscores the global ramifications of the conflict and the diverse range of international opinions on the matter.
In a further response to the situation, President Ramaphosa is set to convene an extraordinary emergency video conference with other BRICS leaders on Tuesday. The objective of the conference is to discuss the deteriorating situation in Gaza, highlighting the broader geopolitical implications of the conflict and the diplomatic rift between nations.
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