Hamas condemns ‘shocking’ Israel’s observer status at African Union

By Nour Abu Eisha


GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA): Palestinian resistance group Hamas on Saturday decried a decision by the African Union (AU) to grant Israel an observer status at the pan-African bloc.

“This decision enhances the legitimacy of the (Israeli) entity on our land and gives it more opportunities to continue its plans to erase Palestinian rights and to continue its brutal crimes against our people,” Hamas said in a statement.

It called on African states which it said “still suffer from the yoke of colonialism and racism” to “expel” Israel from the AU and to slap it with sanctions “until it acquiesces in truth and justice.”

Israel announced on Thursday that it has attained observer status at the AU after nearly two decades of diplomatic efforts.

Israel’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Burundi, and Chad, Aleli Admasu submitted Israel’s charter as an observer member to Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairman of the 55-member states continental body.

“This is a day of celebration for Israel-Africa relations. This diplomatic achievement is the result of consistent work by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, its African Division, and Israeli embassies on the continent,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement.

“This corrects the anomaly that has existed for almost two decades and is an important part of strengthening the fabric of Israel’s foreign relations. It will help us strengthen our activities on the African continent and with the member states of the organization,” Lapid said.

In a separate statement, Faki stressed the AU’s position over the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, reiterating the bloc’s stance that a two-state solution was ”necessary for a peaceful co-existence”.

“[Faki] emphasised that the path towards long lasting peace and stability requires that the peace process and the solutions sought must not only be acceptable, but must guarantee the rights of all parties,” read the AU’s statement.

In May, Faki condemned Israel when its forces bombarded the besieged Gaza Strip for 11 days, as well as Israeli security forces’ attacks at the Al-Aqsa Mosque – Islam’s third-holiest site located in occupied East Jerusalem – saying the Israeli army was acting “in stark violation of international law”.

Pro-Palestine language is typically featured in statements delivered at the AU’s annual summits.

Faki used last year’s summit to denounce then-US President Donald Trump’s plan for the Middle East, drawing applause in the AU’s main hall when he said it “trampled on the rights of the Palestinian people”.

Israel previously held observer status at the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), but was long thwarted in its attempts to get it back after the OAU was disbanded in 2002 and replaced by the AU.

Palestine already has observer status at the AU.

It is noteworthy that relations between Africa and Israel have been tense since the 1960s against the backdrop of the outbreak of national liberation movements on the continent and the escalation of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Arab-Israeli wars in 1967 and 1973 prompted the sub-Saharan African countries to sever their relations with Israel. However, Tel Aviv sought over the following years to improve relations with many countries of the continent.

*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar in Ankara

Additional report by The Muslim News

Photo: African Union Headquarters, Addis Ababa. Photo by: Satu Ryynänen/Creative Commons]

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