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Misleading to claim eight South African opposition parties ‘stand with Israel’

IN SHORT: A graphic that has circulated on social media in South Africa since October 2023 claims that eight major political parties all “stand with Israel”. But there is scant evidence for this  – only two of the parties have claimed to support Israel in its current war on Gaza.

Note: This report includes details about a breaking news story. Information was, as far as possible, correct at the time of publication but may change rapidly.

A graphic circulating on social media well into February 2024 claims that eight major South African opposition parties are “standing with Israel”.

They are:

South Africa is set to hold national and provincial elections on 29 May. Opinion polls suggest it may be the most closely run race in 30 years, with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) predicted to lose the parliamentary majority it has held since the first democratic vote in 1994.

In December 2023 South Africa’s ANC-led government laid a charge of genocide against Israel at the International Court of Justice for its war on the Gaza Strip. The ongoing war began after the 7 October Hamas-led attack on Israel from Gaza.

Israel lies between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea in the Middle East. The region also includes Palestine, currently and contentiously made up of the West Bank on the shores of the Jordan and Gaza on the Mediterranean coast. Gaza has been controlled by Hamas since 2007.

By 15 March 2024 a reported 31,490 Palestinians had been killed in Gaza and three-quarters of its population had been forced to flee their homes. More than 1,400 Israelis had reportedly been killed in both territories.

In South Africa’s 2021 local government elections the ANC won 47.51% of the national vote. Seven of the eight parties in the graphic (except Bosa, established in 2022) won a combined 32.06% of the vote.

The graphic can also be seen here, here and here.

Do eight South African political parties, seven of them supported by almost a third of the electorate in 2021, say they “stand with Israel”?


Response to the 7 October Hamas attack

The graphic first appeared online in the week after the deadly 7 October 2023 Hamas-led attack on Israel and has continued to circulate since. The attack killed an estimated 1,139 people, mostly civilians, with a further 240 taken hostage.

In the aftermath, only five of the eight parties issued official statements.

Of the five, four – ActionSA, the ACDP, DA and FF Plus – condemned Hamas for the attack. But ActionSA and the DA also called for peace between Israel and Palestine.

The IFP stopped short of condemnation, simply calling on Hamas “to join the peace process”. It’s worth noting that the ANC’s response was similar, although it also said the attack was “unsurprising” and that it “stands with the people of occupied Palestine”.

Three more – the PA, Cope and Bosa – had nothing to say in response to the attack, and their websites don’t mention Israel or Palestine at all.

Cope has only referred to it three times on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, in vague posts that indicate support for South Africa’s genocide charge against Israel. Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota also welcomed the international court’s ruling that Israel must prevent genocide in Gaza. In November the party distanced itself from an official who said “This Congress of the People will stand with Israel”.

Bosa’s only reference to the conflict is a 29 January 2024 statement, posted on X, that a “two-state solution is the pathway to peace in Israel-Palestine conflict”.

The two-state solution

The two-state solution, in its broadest sense, proposes an end to the conflict by recognising the right of both Israel and Palestine to exist between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The idea is that the 1967 borders should be recognised, based on UN resolutions 242 and 338.

The solution has been rejected by Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu.

The ANC has repeatedly said that it supports the two-state solution “in terms of the 1967 borders”.

The DA’s stance is almost identical, saying it “continues to support a viable and sustainable two-state solution based on United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 338”. In January 2024 the party rejected Netanyahu’s declaration that there would be no Palestinian state at the end of the war.

The two-state solution is also supported by the FF Plus (here), the IFP (here and here), ACDP (here) and Bosa (here).

Condemning Hamas for the 7 October attack does not automatically mean a party “stands with Israel”. In fact, South Africa’s ANC-led government itself condemned the attack in its genocide case against Israel.

We found that most of the eight parties have said relatively little, if anything, about the Israel-Hamas war, sticking instead to local issues.

The only parties that could be considered, by their public statements, as “standing with Israel” are the FF Plus (here and here) and the ACDP (here).

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