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South Africa’s Chief Justice ordered to apologise over pro-Israel comments

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South Africa’s Constitutional Court on Thursday called on its president to apologise and withdraw pro-Israeli statements made in June, which had caused an outcry in a country strongly committed to the Palestinian cause.

Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng, a devout Christian, again caused a stir in December by calling the coronavirus vaccines “satanic”.

In a video exchange organised in June 2020 by the Israeli daily, Jerusalem Post, the judge, speaking alongside the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Warren Goldstein, deplored his country’s unwavering support for the Palestinians since the end of South Africa’s apartheid regime in 1994.

“We are (thus) denying ourselves a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, he had argued.

The Judicial Council, which had been seized by the NGO #Africa4Palestine, considered the remarks as “offensive” and “particularly provocative”.

It called on the judge to “withdraw them without reservation and to restore the image of justice,” publishing the apology text that it wants to hear within 10 days.

In June, the African National Congress (ANC), which has been in power in South Africa since 1994, denounced Mogoeng Mogoeng’s support for “the Israeli apartheid state”.

The Radical Left Party (EFF) demanded that he immediately withdraw his remarks, accusing Israel of pursuing a policy of “illegal, criminal and genocidal” occupation in the Palestinian Territories.

Israel has long been accused of having privileged links with the ‘racist’ white South African regime prior to 1994, in particular by supplying it with arms despite an international embargo.

In 2013, Israeli leaders did not attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela, which was attended by officials from around the world, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.