Delegates to a national party meeting endorsed the proposal to the government for "an immediate and unconditional downgrade" of the embassy in Tel Aviv, the African National Congress (ANC) said late on Wednesday.
The move comes amid a barrage of global backlash since US President Donald Trump's highly-contested decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel which has triggered United Nations action.
"The ANC's National Conference, the highest decision making body of our organization, has unanimously resolved to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to a liaison office".
The unanimous vote - held at a meeting of the ANC's worldwide relations commission during the party's Elective Conference - means that the country's embassy in Tel Aviv could soon be reduced to a "Liaison Office".
Applauded by Hamas, the ANC has approved a resolution to downgrade the country's embassy in Israel.
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The South African Board of Jewish Deputies and the South African Zionist Federation jointly condemned the ANC's decision. Moreover it relieves South Africa of any credible ability to play a role in brokering peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. It is also a downgrade of support for the local Jewish community and a folded hand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
South Africa's ministry for worldwide relations and cooperation said on its website that it was deeply concerned about Trump's move as it would undermine Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, which has been frozen since 2014.
In their joint statement, the SAJBD and SAZF warned that a downgrade of the embassy in Israel would leave South Africa poorer.
"Without addressing this historic injustice, we will never have peace in the country". President Jacob Zuma remains head of state.