How African countries have split over Israel-Gaza conflict

African leaders called on warring parties in the Israel-Gaza conflict to halt deadly confrontations that erupted on 7 October when the Palestinian Hamas militant group launched a surprise assault.

The reaction has not been entirely uniform with *Zambia, Kenya and Ghana* more explicitly condemning Hamas and backing Israel, and Sudan, Djibouti and South Africa being clear about their support for the Palestinians.

Despite Israel growing its diplomatic presence on the continent in the last decade and plans by several African countries to move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel has not fully consolidated its support in Africa in this latest conflict.

The African Union, highlighted in statements in French and English that the confrontations were underpinned by the “denial of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, particularly that of an independent and sovereign state”.

“The chairperson urgently appeals to both parties to put an end to military hostilities and to return, without conditions, to the negotiating table to implement the principle of two States living side by side, to safeguard the interests of the Palestinian people and the Israeli people,”

AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki added.

Israel has previously sought to take part in AU meetings as an observer, sparking some backlash.

Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni also called for warring parties to return to the “two states solution” in a statement on 7 October, where he said he regretted the violence.

Mr Museveni hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2016 and 2020 in efforts to improve relations between the two countries. The Ugandan leader also brokered the normalisation of relations between Israel and Sudan in 2020.

However, Sudan’s foreign ministry backed the Palestinians in the wake of renewed confrontations.

“Sudan is following with concern the dangerous developments currently taking place in occupied Palestine. Sudan renews its support for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to have their independent state. It calls for adherence to international resolutions and the protection of innocent civilians,” a statement published on the Facebook page of state news agency Suna said.

South Africa called for an “immediate ceasefire”.

“The region is in desperate need of a credible peace process that delivers on the calls of a plethora of previous UN resolutions for a two-state solution and a just and comprehensive peace between Israel and Palestine,” the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) said on its official Facebook page on 7 October.

Meanwhile, Nigeria warned that “the cycle of violence and retaliation that the current escalation has assumed only serves to perpetuate an unending cycle of pain and suffering for the civilian population, that bear the brunt of every conflict”.

Kenya’s President William Ruto, urged the warring parties to de-escalate as “casualties continue to rise”. “Kenya strongly maintains that there exists no justification whatsoever for terrorism, which constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security. All acts of terrorism and violent extremism are abhorrent, criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of the perpetrator, or their motivations,” he said on X.

Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Stanley Kakubo backed Israel in a statement condemning the Hamas attacks. “We strongly condemn the recent attacks on Israel, which have regrettably resulted in the loss of lives. We unequivocally denounce all acts of aggression and violence, and continue to emphasise the necessity of pursuing diplomatic means to resolving international conflicts,” he said on X.

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