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War on Gaza: US lawmakers introduce bill to 'review' South Africa ties after genocide case against Israel

The legislation would require a review of the relationship and characterises South Africa as a supporter of Hamas
People gather to watch the International Court of Justice ruling of the case against Israel brought by South Africa in The Hague at Bertha House in Cape Town, on 26 January 2024 (AFP)

Congressmen John James and Jared Moskowitz introduced a bill last week in the US House of Representatives that seeks to undergo a review of the bilateral relationship between the United States and South Africa.

The US-South Africa Bilateral Relations Review Act would require a full review of the bilateral relationship between the United States and South Africa, “given South Africa’s recent positioning and coordination with America’s adversaries”.

“South Africa has been building ties to countries and actors that undermine America’s national security and threaten our way of life through its military and political cooperation with China and Russia and its support of US.-designated terrorist organization Hamas,” James said in a statement.

“Under this current administration, America has been put last, leaving our allies and partners beholden to dictators and despots in Beijing and Moscow for critical needs like energy.”

He added that to ensure the security of the US, “we must examine our alliances and disentangle from those who remain willing to work with our adversaries”.

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The bill alleges that South Africa has a history of siding with "malign actors" and that its support for Hamas goes back to 1994, when the African National Congress first came to power, because South Africa has been "consistently accusing Israel of practicing apartheid". 

South Africa has accused Israel of genocide and in January took it to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, which held hearings in response to the accusation.

Israel at The Hague

In an 84-page application to the ICJ, South Africa said Israel's actions in Gaza were "genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnic group".

Israel rejected the filing, calling it "blood libel" -  a reference to antisemitic lies that originated in the Middle Ages, which claimed that Jews murdered Christian boys to use their blood for religious rituals.

The ICJ denied Israel's request to drop the case, mandating that Israel halt any possible acts of genocide and secure proof of such actions. 

The court also ordered Israel to prevent genocide against Palestinians, penalise any encouragement of it, immediately facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid to the population in Gaza, and provide a report within a month detailing the measures it has implemented in response to these directives.

More than 2,000 Palestinians have been killed since the ICJ in The Hague told Israel to do its best to prevent acts of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. 

The conflict, which came in response to the 7 October Hamas-led attacks on southern Israel that killed 1,139 people and saw over 200 taken as captives back to Gaza, has resulted in Israel's military killing more than 28,000 Palestinians - the majority being women and children - while at least 65,000 have been wounded. 

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