Foreign Service Bill: motion of desirability postponed

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International Relations

16 May 2018
Chairperson: Mr M Masango (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson elaborated on the current crisis in Palestine and opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. He explained the action taken by the South African Government to withdraw the ambassador from Israel as a sign of protest. Religious and business-related work would not be hampered due to it.

The Committee noted the attendance of only 4 members. At least 6 members were needed to consider and adopt the motion of desirability. Noting that, the Chairperson suggested postponing the task until next week, which would still make the final bill be adopted before the 6 June 2018 deadline. Members present agreed to the proposal.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks
The Chairperson addressed the Committee on the situation in Israel. There was a crisis in Palestine where over 60 people had been killed. The march started from 1 May; over 2700 have been wounded. The Immediate spark was that the US had decided to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which should not normally have been a problem, but the Palestinians lay claim on Jerusalem as their land and so do the Israelis. The government of Palestine under the leadership of Hamas, saw it as provocation.

The historical grievance was that Israel was established on 15 May 1948 and on that day thousands of Palestinians were displaced. The intention to establish a state of Israel was quoted. When the state of Israel was then established some of the areas were already populated by Palestinians. The name of the place is Nagba, which in Arabic means the day of catastrophe. So, 15 May 1948 is commemorated every year. This was the 70th Anniversary of this commemoration. All these things coincided.

The South African Government has withdrawn its ambassador to Israel until further notice. Now in diplomatic terms, this is a diplomatic protest. Whether Israel will reciprocate is not yet known.

Hamas itself withdrew its ambassador to the USA. The business and religious committee will not be impacted by this decision. This is not a downgrading of relations it is just a gesture of international protest. All the parties have condemned the killings and appreciated negotiations.

Foreign Service Bill: Motion of desirability
Mr Lubabalo Sigwela, Committee Secretary, clarified that at least 6 members were required to consider and adopt the motion of desirability.

Mr S Mokgalapa (DA) said even if they proceeded it would only be consideration and not adoption of the motion and suggested to collapse the meeting.

Ms D Raphuti (ANC) expressed concern as the programme was discussed in the last meeting for which everyone present in the meeting had left important work to assist in the process.

The Chairperson said they would have to do extra work next week with extended hours. However, he was quite appreciative of the fact that people were debating in other committees and that work could be exerting. He suggested to shift the work supposed to be done that day to next week. The programme said the Committee should conclude by 6 June 2018, shifting by a week would mean that the work would be compiled by 3 June 2018, as long as the Committee can ensure it does not delay any further beyond 18 June. If the Committee does that the instruction is that the Committee will have to work during recess.

Even if the Content Advisor had a presentation that day, she would have to make another one next week to refresh minds.

The Members present agreed and the meeting was adjourned.


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