(Bloomberg) -- South African lawmakers voted to close the Israeli embassy in the country, the culmination of weeks of criticism by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration of Israel’s conflict with Hamas.
In a rare show of cooperation, the ruling African National Congress backed a motion brought by the Economic Freedom Fighters, the third-largest opposition party, to close the diplomatic mission. The vote carried with 241 in favor and 91 opposed, with no abstentions.
South African government officials have criticized Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, while expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people — a longstanding policy of the ANC. South Africa downgraded its relations with Israel to a liaison office in March, having recalled its ambassador four years ago.
Last week, South Africa joined five other developing nations in referring Israel to the International Criminal Court for war crimes over its conflict with Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the US and European Union.
The final decision on whether to close the embassy rests with Ramaphosa, as the appointment of ambassadors and diplomatic missions in South Africa is the prerogative of the executive arm of government.
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