Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for July 9, 2018

Newsline: As foreign secretary, Boris Johnson was the diplomat who refused to learn diplomacy

It was Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former foreign secretary, who warned that the post did not allow for celebrities. Recalling Harold MacMillan’s maxim that foreign ministers were either dull or dangerous, he mused: “Boris certainly isn’t dull.” He was not. Mr Johnson came to the post with a rich history of gaffes towards foreign leaders, having written a limerick calling President Erdogan of Turkey “the wankerer from Ankara” and framing the African continent as “that country” replete with “picanninies”. The shock over his appointment was felt throughout Europe. Mr Johnson’s powers to offend foreigners did not diminish, nor were they confined to the rows over Brexit.



Newsline: South Africa “holding back” ambassador to Israel

South Africa will not reinstate its ambassador to Israel that it withdrew on May 14 amid the heightened violence that resulted in the death of some 60 Gazans on the day the United States opened its embassy in Jerusalem, officially recognizing the city as Israel’s capital despite tremendous resistance from Palestinians as well as internationally. “I’m very glad that I recalled the ambassador, because we could have not been in the situation that we are at now. It’s been a violation that has been going on for a long time, and we can’t be looking away,” International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says. South Africa’s foreign minister said the withdrawal was indefinite due to the situation in Gaza. Some 140 Palestinians have been killed since March 30, of which 50 have been identified as Hamas members. “We are holding back on our ambassador until we are certain that we are making headway. For us this is an unacceptable situation, completely unacceptable.” South Africa originally withdrew its ambassador in protests of what it called Israel’s “latest act of violent aggression” against civilians protesting peacefully in the Gaza Strip.