Foreign Affairs PS Korir Sing’Oei Explains Why Kenya Will NOT Join South Africa in Genocide Case Against Israel

January 12, 2024

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Korir Sing’oei on Thursday cautioned that the legal action initiated by South Africa against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague might not succeed due to the complexity of the situation.

The lawsuit, filed by South Africa at the end of December 2023, accuses Israel of committing genocide in its conflict in Gaza, which has resulted in over 23,000 Palestinian deaths. Israel launched the offensive following the October 7th attack by Hamas.

South Africa seeks to compel Israel to halt its military activities in Gaza through this legal action.

Korir Sing’oei, while acknowledging South Africa’s attempt to address the ongoing three-month conflict, suggested that the issue might not find resolution through judicial means.

He expressed his personal appreciation for South Africa’s initiative but noted that the complexity of the issue requires different approaches.

He stated that Kenya would collaborate with United Nations’ political bodies to find more sustainable solutions.

Although he did not spell it out, the PS hinted that Kenya was against the process, and would not be joining a group of nations that have joined South Africa at the ICJ.

It is worth noting that Kenya has in fact voted to condemn Israel, although it has not gone as far as accusing it of committing genocide.

South Africa’s allegations in the lawsuit include accusations that Israel’s response to attacks has breached the 1948 United Nations’ Genocide Convention, to which both Israel and South Africa are signatories.

South Africa’s Justice Minister Ronald Lamola emphasized that no armed attack justifies or defends breaches of the convention, and that Israel’s actions have crossed a line, leading to these breaches.

PS Korir said that he is personally sympathetic of the cause, but expressed reservations when it comes to dragging Kenya’s entire foreign policy into it.

“At a personal level, I appreciate the approach by South Africa and laud its leadership. However, a complex issue of this magnitude, will certainly not find resolution through judicialization. Consequently, we will continue to work through the political organs of the United Nations to seek more sustainable remedies,” he posted on X.

Some Kenyans on X were not buying into that position, particularly Miguna Miguna who replied, Like what, Dr. @SingoeiAKorir? Mention one little “political effort” Kenya has initiated at the

@UN to address the unfolding genocide. Just one. It would have cost Kenya nothing by standing in solidarity with South Africa the way many countries have done. It would have placed Kenya in good standing with countries that are attempting to uphold international law and international humanitarian law. Kenya has no vote at the UN Security Council and cannot influence any significant political decisions taken there. However, we can have our voices heard at the ICJ, no matter how limited its impact.”

The international community has shown mixed reactions to South Africa’s lawsuit, with some countries supporting it and others, like the UK and the United States, dismissing the charges as baseless

The case has raised questions about Kenya’s position, with some suggesting that supporting South Africa would enhance Kenya’s standing in the international community, while others believe Kenya might align with Western countries supporting Israel.

However, only a handful of nations have expressed support for South Africa at the ICJ.

Some major Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE are notable exceptions, which waters down international commitment to prosecuting Israel at the world’s highest court.

Other than humanitarian support, few of those tagging the PS explained the strategic benefit for Kenya if it were to join such an effort.

Kenya and Israel have enjoyed a cordial relationship over the decades, and the government recently announced a bilateral labour agreement between the two countries, which will see thousands of Kenyans employed in Israel’s agricultural sector.

The United States is also quite protective of Israel, and is known to occasionally ‘blackmail’ countries that take anti-Israel positions.

In 2020 for example, the US told Kenya to publicly support Israel’s political and commercial interests, or forget a free trade agreement that was in the works.

The State of Israel has an impressive lobbying mechanism in the US Congress that ensures perpetual support from Uncle Sam irrespective of who the US president is.

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