THE ESCALATING ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT: IMPLICATIONS FOR AFRICA

Introduction

The year 2023 has undeniably been a year marked by significant geopolitical developments that have reshaped the global landscape of human relations and foreign policies. Without a doubt, there has been a consistent escalation of emerging threats and conflicts. One of these includes the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict which intensified when Hamas, a Gaza-based militant group, launched an attack along the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023. More than 1,400 Israeli and Palestinian fatalities have been recorded while 199 hostages have been held by Hamas militants since the attack. This has prompted a global shift in sentiment following the declaration of war, resulting in reactions from allies, detractors, sympathizers, and apathetic observers.

Context

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has its roots in historical grievances, territorial disputes, and religious sentiments. Reflecting on the history of Israel and Palestine before and after 1948 and the Balfour Declaration is essential to understanding the roots of this conflict. Hamas’ attacks have alluded to the broader context of the escalating conflict. As diverse nations call for de-escalation, some maintain a steadfast stance in line with individuals subscribing to religious sentiments. In retrospect, the conflict has been fueled by territorial disputes that have deepened through attacks by militias and revolutionary groups aiming to protect their territories.

Implications for Africa

The positions taken by various African countries are influenced by public sentiment, diplomatic interest and religious affiliations. From Kenya, Sudan, and Algeria, to South Africa, the reverberations of this conflict have reached far and wide hence, this conflict presents a concern to the continent. African nations are affected to varying degrees, by foreign policies contingent on their diplomatic ties, economies, political ideologies, and the presence of Israeli and Palestinian diaspora communities.

The evolving global landscape has broad implications for diplomatic relations and manifests as protest actions mainly in some Northern and Western African countries, as well as some regions in the south. Given that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict possesses religious elements involving Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, it has the potential to sow religious polarisation in countries like Nigeria. If the conflict escalates and becomes perceived through a religious lens, it could exacerbate existing tensions between Nigerian Muslims and Christians, particularly in the northern zones of the country. Such polarization could lead to inter-religious conflicts, a challenge Nigeria has encountered in the past.

Conclusion

It is worth noting that some African nations may face diplomatic strains because of their political affiliations concerning Israel. In addition to the rising production costs due to escalating prices, which have been noticeable since the beginning of the Ukrainian-Russian war, this conflict could have ramifications on the continent particularly as both Israel and Palestine are key players in Africa. In 2021, nearly two-thirds of Israel’s trade is conducted with South Africa, while Nigeria stands as the second most significant trading partner, with a trade value of $129 million. Meanwhile, there was a 34% increase in trade volume between 2009 and 2021 from Palestinian exports, including olive oils and food products.

 

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