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'Genocide' court case threatens to open new geopolitical divisions

The EU stays silent amid  fears that South Africa's accusations against Israel will further damage relations between Africa and Europe

The legal tussle between Israel and South Africa over Pretoria's claims to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague that Israel is responsible for 'genocide' against the Palestinian people, threatens to open new geopolitical faultlines.

Officials in Europe are watching the case anxiously. There are concerns among some EU officials that the war in Gaza will cause further damage to geopolitical relations between Europe and Africa that have already been strained by the fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Unlike Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom, all of whom have rejected South Africa's assertion, the EU has remained silent on the ICJ case so far.

No Western country has declared support for South Africa's allegations against Israel. The US, a close Israel ally, has rejected them as unfounded, the UK has called them unjustified, and Germany said it 'explicitly rejects' them.

Few African states have broken ranks, although the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, whose 57 members include 26 African states, has backed South Africa's suit. Namibia has condemned its former colonial ruler Germany's decision to 'explicitly reject' the accusations of genocide.

Lawyers for the South African government, presenting the case last week, accused Israel of committing the crime of genocide in Gaza in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention. Israel has described the allegations as a 'blood libel' describing the military actions which have so far killed more than 23,000 people in Gaza as an 'act of self-defence' following the murderous attacks of Hamas on 7 October.

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