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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

South Africa’s chief justice condemned by politicians, Palestinian solidarity groups for pro-Israel remarks

Mogoeng Mogoeng said he ‘loved and prayed’ for Israel [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 June, 2020

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The chief justice of South Africa has been condemned by the ruling ANC and other parties for getting involved in politics and making pro-Israeli remarks during a webinar session

South Africa's chief justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, on Friday came under fire over comments seen as pledging support for Israel.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has openly voiced solidarity with the Palestinian cause, comparing it to the struggle against apartheid. In 2018, South Africa recalled its ambassador to Tel Aviv after Israeli snipers massacred 60 Palestinian protesters in Gaza.

Last year, South Africa’s embassy in Israel was downgraded to a liaison office.

The judge sparked an outcry for remarks he made during a webinar this week co-organised by the Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post and South Africa's chief rabbi, Warren Goldstein.

"I cannot, as a Christian, do anything other than love and pray for Israel because I know hatred for Israel by me and my nation can only attract unprecedented curses upon our nation," he said.

South Africa, he added, was "denying [itself] a wonderful opportunity of being a game-changer in the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

"We know what it means to be at loggerheads, a nation at war with itself," he said.

Read more: South Africa shames other nations at UN over Palestine inaction

The ruling ANC accused Mogoeng of venturing into politics with "unfortunate" comments "which may make him vulnerable should he have to adjudicate a human rights matter in the future".

"He also openly supported the actions of the State of Israel, actions condemned by the United Nations Security Council on numerous occasions and contemptuous behaviour towards the human rights of the people of Palestine," ANC spokesman Pule Made said in a statement.

Another political party, the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), called on the judge to withdraw his remarks and submit himself "to the collective wisdom and call by the oppressed people of Palestine".

A local pro-Palestinian rights group said it plans to lay a formal complaint with the country's Judicial Service Commission.

"It is regrettable that the Chief Justice has publicly entered the Israeli-Palestinian issue on the side of the oppressors - the Israeli regime," said the organisation #Africa4Palestine.

The chief justice has not commented on the criticism.

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