Israel is planning to withdraw its resident ambassador to South Africa after the government in Pretoria began steps to downgrade its relations with Israel, Israeli radio reported, according to the middleeastmonitor.com website.
According to the radio station, the Israeli embassy in South Africa will be downgraded to a representative office which would deal with consulate issues.
According to Quds Press, Israeli radio reported that that South African Foreign Minister Lindiwe Sisulu had told journalists in Johannesburg that plans to downgrade the South African embassy in Israel had started.
“We will not be putting up a nomination for a representative at the level of an ambassador in Israel,” minister Sisulu said.
“The office will remain at the level of a liaison and that is how it will operate,” she added
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) voted to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to liaison office level 16 months ago.
The South African government took this decision after the Israeli crackdown on Palestinian protesters taking part in the Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip.
Diplomatic relations between Israel and South Africa began in 1949, when Israel established a consulate-general in Pretoria, which was raised to the status of a legation (later elevated to an embassy) in 1950. South Africa had no direct diplomatic representation in Israel (it being represented by the United Kingdom) until South Africa left the Commonwealth in 1961, whereupon it opened a consulate general (later an embassy) in Tel-Aviv.
News sources: www.middleeastmonitor.com, Wikipedia.org