The motion calling for the closure of the embassy was approved with 248 votes in favor and 91 votes against.
South Africa’s parliament has voted in favor of a motion calling for the closure of the Israeli embassy in Pretoria and the suspension of diplomatic relations as tensions rise between the two countries over the Israeli attack on Gaza.
The move is largely symbolic because it will be up to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government to implement it.
The motion calling for the closure of the embassy and the suspension of all diplomatic relations until a ceasefire is reached was approved on Tuesday with 248 votes in favor and 91 against.
The action was brought by the left-wing opposition party Economic Freedom Fighters, backed by the ruling African National Congress and opposed by members of the centrist, majority white and largely pro-Israel Democratic Alliance.
Ramaphosa has said his country believes Israel is committing war crimes and genocide in the besieged Gaza Strip, where Palestinian authorities have said more than 14,100 people have been killed in Israel’s air and ground attack since October 7.
The war in Gaza was triggered when the Palestinian armed group Hamas launched a surprise attack on southern Israel that authorities said killed about 1,200 people.
The vote was held after Israel announced it would recall Ambassador Eli Belotserkovsky from Pretoria “for consultations.”
The African country, which has not had an ambassador in Israel since 2018, has long supported the Palestinian cause in favor of the creation of a state.
Many Palestinian rights groups have drawn parallels between the Israeli occupation and South Africa’s decades-long apartheid regime.
In recent years, a growing number of international rights groups have said that Israeli policies toward the Palestinians constitute the crime of apartheid, something Israel firmly denies.
South Africa also hosted a virtual summit of the BRICS countries on Tuesday. The group of emerging economies made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa called for an “immediate, lasting and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities” in Gaza.
“As individual countries, we have demonstrated our grave concern about the death and destruction in Gaza,” Ramaphosa said in a social media post on Tuesday.
“Let this meeting be a wake-up call for us to combine our efforts and strengthen our actions to end this historic injustice. Let us work together to achieve a just, peaceful and secure future for the people of Palestine and Israel.”