South Africa’s genocide case against Israel may have ruffled feathers in the capitals of vital Western trading partners, but it has boosted the country’s standing as a champion of the downtrodden Global South.
That gamble is likely to pay off, thanks to renewed rivalry for Africa’s minerals and U.N. votes between the West, China and Russia, turbocharged by Russia’s war on Ukraine.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) rejected Israel’s petition to throw out the case on Friday, telling it to prevent its troops committing genocide against Palestinians, although it stopped short of ordering the ceasefire South Africa demanded.
It did not decide the merits of the genocide allegations, which could take years.
“It was reasonably damning,” said Susan Booysen, Director of Research at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection.
“It was quite unambiguous … in highlighting the abuses … so I think it gives them (South Africa) quite a bit of esteem as an international spokesperson for human rights,” she added.
And while Israel’s allies in Washington, Brussels and London might grumble, they can scarcely afford to alienate Africa’s industrial and diplomatic heavyweight – especially with the United States’ main superpower rival, China, wooing the continent with money, railways and tech transfers.
“If you’re going to start punishing South Africa for going to the International Court of Justice, then you’re going to have to start punishing a lot of other African countries (for supporting the Palestinians),” Steven Friedman, director of South Africa’s Centre for the Study of Democracy, said.
“If you do that, then you might as well send (Chinese President) Xi Jinping a letter saying ‘You’ve won’.” [Continue reading…]