The Ecuadoran Ambassador has been recalled from Israel, citing the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza which began nearly two weeks ago, and has killed over 550 Palestinians.South Africa considered a similar move last week, but stopped short after meeting of ejecting the Israeli ambassadors after meeting with Israeli officials.
On Friday, legislators in South Africa’s Parliament urged the President to cut diplomatic ties with Israel, making comparisons between Israel’s policies and those of the white South African government under apartheid.
African National Congress member Stone Sizani, stated, “We echo the widespread condemnation of these senseless attacks on defenceless Palestinians and call on the government of Israel to immediately cease with this blatant act of criminality,” he said. “As the ANC in parliament, we stand unapologetically with the people of Palestine and pro-Palestinian campaigners … As one of the measures to put pressure on Israel, we are of a firm view that our government must recall our ambassador to Israel and also ask the Israel ambassador to South African to leave with immediate effect.”
The Electronic Intifada reports that Ronnie Kasrils, anti-apartheid and Palestine solidarity activist, said in a letter to a South African newspaper last week: “It is quite frankly hypocritical of the ruling ANC and its SACP [Communist Party] allies to merely protest against Israel’s actions while … continuing to do business with the Zionist regime.”
The Ecuadoran decision coincides with the announcement by the African Studies Association that it will join the academic boycott of Israel, and an open letter signed by over 500 academics worldwide urging an arms embargo against Israel.
The Ecuadoran government made clear that the reason for the withdrawal is the Israeli invasion of Gaza. The Ecuadoran Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patino, stated, ‘We condemn the Israeli military incursion into Palestinian territory, we require cessation of operations and indiscriminate attacks against civilians”.
Hamas officials praised the decision, and called on the UN Security Council to quickly pass a resolution ending the Israeli aggression and lifting the eight-year long Israeli siege that has devastated the economy of the coastal Strip.
Britain and France, which had previously threatened to recall the Israeli ambassador from their countries in 2007 due to Israeli settlement expansion, have been largely supportive of Israel during its ongoing invasion of Gaza, despite massive protests by people in both countries urging economic and political sanctions against Israel.
Turkey has been the most outspoken on the diplomatic front about the Israeli offensive, leading the Israeli government to recall most of its diplomatic staff from Turkey several days ago.
Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip has cost over 550 Palestinians their lives, including over 130 children, over the past 13 days. Over 3,300 have been wounded, many of them severely.