African Union refuses to revoke Israel’s status

The Palestinian Authority (PA), Algeria and South Africa tried to oust Israel from the organization.

By Erin Viner

The dispute erupted on Saturday at the annual opening of the African Union (AU) 2-day summit at its secretariat, the African Union Commission(AUC), in Addis Ababa.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh called on the AU to rescind Israel’s accreditation, which had been granted only last July.

Israel is one of 4 observer states (along with Kazakhstan, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey) at 55-member bloc. The AU was established in 2002 in place of the now-defunct Organization of African Unity (OAU), where Israel had also been accredited.

“Israel should never be rewarded for its violation and for the apartheid regime it does impose on the Palestinian people,” insisted Shtayyeh.

The effort was backed by South Africa and Algeria, which argued that Israel’s inclusion invalidates historical AU support of the Palestinians.

AUC Chariman Moussa Faki Mahamat defended Israel’s inclusion as “an instrument in the service of peace.” The leader, a former Prime Minister of Chad who has led the AUC since 2017, called for “a serene debate” on the issue while also underscoring the bloc’s commitment for Palestinian independence is “unchanging and can only continue to go stronger.”

Agreement was ultimately reached on the formation of a 6-member committee to examine the matter, whose findings will be presented at the African Union Summit in 2023.

Diplomats cited by the media said that the 2 nations opposed to Israel’s accreditation, South Africa and Algeria, will serve on the body, along with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which support it. South Africa reportedly requested that Nigeria be added to the committee, and Cameroon requested participation.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) hailed the AU’s rejection of attempts to revoke its status.

“Israel’s acceptance as an observer in the African Union is a clear interest for us all – for Israel, for the African Union, and for the Union’s members,” said the MFA in a statement obtained by TV7, adding that Jerusalem’s inclusion “will facilitate increased cooperation between Israel and African countries.”

“Israel attaches great importance to expanding the dialogue and cooperation with the African Union in line with changes in the Middle East, and views it as an important expression of our shared activities for the continent’s next generation,” stressed the statement.