Parliament, Tuesday, 21 November 2023 –The National Assembly has adopted a motion calling for the South African government to close the Israeli Embassy in South Africa and suspend all diplomatic relations with Israel with an approved amendment by the ANC.

The motion brought by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) comes as a response to the ongoing human rights violations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Reading out the amendment to point nine of the original motion, the Chief Whip of the majority party, Ms Pemmy Majodina, made certain additions.

With the amendment, the motion reads: “That the House – calls upon the government to close the Israeli Embassy in South Africa and suspend all diplomatic relations with Israel until a ceasefire is agreed to by Israel and Israel commits to binding United Nations-facilitated negotiations whose outcome must be a just sustainable and lasting peace.”

Members debated the original motion in the National Assembly last Thursday and political parties were today afforded an opportunity to make declarations on the amendment.

The motion was passed with the support of 248 votes to 91 with no abstentions.
The new motion was carried with 248 votes to 91 – also with no abstentions.

*Explanatory note on Motions adopted by the National Assembly:

When the National Assembly adopts a motion, it becomes a resolution of the House. Resolutions adopted by Parliament play a crucial role in the functioning of a democratic government. They are a means by which the legislature, representing the will of the people, expresses its views, concerns, and recommendations on various matters.

Once a resolution is adopted by the House, it becomes an official expression of the will of Parliament. The Speaker of the House has the responsibility to formally bring this resolution to the attention of the President and the relevant or affected government department. This serves as a formal communication channel between the legislative and executive branches of government.

Resolutions adopted by Parliament are generally not binding on the government and this is rooted in the doctrine of the separation of powers. Parliament, as the legislative branch, may express its views through resolutions, but it cannot dictate executive decisions. The only way its resolutions may be binding, in this context, is through a piece of legislation.

While resolutions are not legally binding, they hold significant importance in the democratic process. They represent the collective voice of the elected representatives of the people and reflect the concerns and aspirations of the citizenry. The government, therefore, must take resolutions seriously, considering them as valuable input into policy-making and governance.

Although resolutions may not be binding, they should not be ignored by the government without reasonable justification. Ignoring a resolution without justification can lead to serious concerns about accountability and transparency in government actions. Parliament's role includes overseeing the executive branch, and resolutions are one of the tools used for this purpose.

For the government to ignore a parliamentary resolution, there must be compelling justification. Such justifications may include constitutional or legal constraints, national security concerns, or practical reasons that make it infeasible to implement the resolution. It is essential for the government to account on these justifications transparently to maintain trust and accountability.

Enquiries: Moloto Mothapo