African Union suspends decision on Israel’s observer status

The African Union (AU) has unanimously agreed to suspend the decision to grant observer status to Israel, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reports.

The decision to grant Israel observer status in the AU was made by the union’s former chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat on 22 July 2021.

A committee headed by the new chairman of the AU, Macky Sall of Senegal, was also formed in the summit to give recommendations on whether to suspend Israel’s status as an observer. Other heads of states in the new committee included Algeria, South Africa, Congo, Nigeria, Rwanda and Cameron.

In August last year, seven Arab and African Union member states presented a memorandum objecting to the granting of observer status to Israel. They highlighted that the decision should not be taken unilaterally by the Union’s chairman but with the consensus and discussions by the leaders of the member states at a summit.

The current summit, which met over the weekend in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, included Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Comoros and Djibouti. On Saturday 5 February, the Palestinian Prime Minister attended the 35th AU Summit, and urged the member states to withdraw the observer status of Israel in the AU, and also denounced Israel’s “apartheid regime”.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry of Israel released a statement on Sunday 6 February stating that the status was in the “clear interest” of all.

The statement read: “It 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.”

Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), and once former head of Human Right Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division applauded the decision by the Union, tweeted: “The @_AfricanUnion has done the right thing to suspend #Israel in line with member state obligations under the Apartheid Convention. It would be particularly grotesque for Africa, which understands well the scourge of apartheid, to grant an apartheid state privilege and status.”

Earlier, Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri said: “Hamas has been closely following up preparations for the upcoming African summit in the Ethiopian capital, and the success of the brotherly state of Algeria’s efforts to put expulsion of Israel from the African Union high on the agenda of the meeting.”

The African Union was founded in 2002 with Israel as an observer, but the Zionist entity was ousted from the Union in 2003. The campaign to oust Israel from the Union was led by the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

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