African Union postpones debate on Israel’s observer status
By Seleshi Tessema
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA):- The African Union on Sunday postponed a debate on whether Israel’s observer status should be withdrawn, avoiding a division, the pan-African body’s newly elected chairman for 2022 said.
Speaking to reporters at the end of the two-day summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, Macky Sall said they discussed the issue thoroughly and agreed to postpone it until the next summit in 2023.
“This issue can divide us, Africa cannot be divided,” he said, adding that division would result in a fragile institution that may not effectively focus on serious issues.
He added that a committee has been set up, which will consult with member states and build a consensus on the matter. “It will be composed of eight heads of state and governments, and will present its recommendations at the next summit.”
Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union Commission, who unilaterally granted Israel the accreditation last July, briefed the media with Sall and defended his decision as legal.
“By granting the observer status to Israel, I acted in full compliance with my prerogatives and powers …” he said. [But] “I respect the decision of the summit.”
Several member states, particularly Algeria and South Africa, have protested Mahamat’s decision, saying they had not been consulted on the move.
Earlier, Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, told African Union, “Israel should never be rewarded for its violation and for the apartheid regime it does impose on the Palestinian people.”
“Your excellencies, I’m sorry to report to you that the situation of the Palestinian people has only grown more precarious. The decision to grant Israel an observer status is a reward that does not deserve, and we call for this decision to be withdrawn.”
In response to the 55-member bloc’s move, Israel said the African Union “rejected attempts by Algeria and South Africa to revoke the State of Israel’s acceptance as an observer in the organization.”
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said its admission will facilitate increased cooperation between Israel and African countries.
“Israel attaches great importance in 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,” it added.
Israel held observer status at the Organisation of African Unity, but it lost the status after the OAU was disbanded in 2002 and replaced by the AU.
*Gozde Bayar contributed to this story from Ankara
Additional report by The Muslim News
[Photo: New Chairman of the African Union, President of Senegal Macky Sall,. speaking during the 35th African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 6, 2022. Photographer: Minasse Wondimu Hailu/AA]
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