African Union: Israeli delegation expelled from AU conference hall

By Zein Khalil

JERUSALEM (AA): Israel said Saturday an Israeli delegation led by Deputy Director for Africa at the Foreign Ministry, Sharon Barley, was expelled from the African Union (AU) conference hall in Addis Ababa.

“Israel takes the incident in which the Deputy Director for Africa, Ambassador Sharon Barley, was removed from the African Union Hall despite her status as an accredited observer with access badges very seriously,” Foreign Minister spokesperson Lior Hair said in a statement cited by The Jerusalem Post newspaper.

“It is sad to see that the African Union has been taken hostage by a small number of extremist countries such as Algeria and South Africa, driven by hatred and controlled by Iran,” Hair said.

“We call on African countries to stand against these actions that harm the organization of the African Union itself and the entire continent,” the spokesperson added.

An AU official told AFP the individual who was “asked to leave” was not invited to attend the meeting, with a non-transferable invitation only issued to Israel’s Ambassador to the AU, Aleli Admasu.
“It is regrettable that the individual in question would abuse such a courtesy,” AU Commission chief’s spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said.
Asked about Israel’s accusations, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesman Vincent Magwenya told AFP at the summit: “They must substantiate their claim.”

There was no official comment from Algeria and South Africa on the Israeli accusation.

A diplomatic source told The EastAfrican the delegation had “”sneaked in with fake badges.”

Palestinian groups on Sunday hailed the expulsion of an Israeli delegation from the AU summit.  “The expulsion is consistent with the AU support for our people and their legitimate rights,” Fatah movement said in a statement.
The group, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, praised efforts of all countries “that prevented the Israeli participation in the AU summit.”
Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, also welcomed efforts that blocked Israel’s participation in the AU summit.
“These efforts are consistent with the values ​​and principles of the AU,” Hamas spokesman Jihad Taha said in a statement.
Islamic Jihad group gave tributes to efforts of South Africa and Algeria for expelling the Israeli delegation.
“This step was necessary to close the door to Israel’s attempts to have a foothold in Africa,” spokesman Tarek Salmi said.
The Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), for its part, called for annulling Israel’s observer status in the AU.

Israel was granted observer status in the African Union in July 2021, in a move that drew fire from a number of African countries, including Algeria and South Africa.

According to The Jerusalem Post newspaper, Israel holds formal relations with 46 African nations, all members of the African Union.

[Photo:  African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photographer: Satu Ryynanen/Creative Commons]

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