Many African countries frown as Israel obtains AU observer status

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Israel’s recent admission to African Union (AU) as an observer provoked a strong reaction from member states of the African bloc.

Moussa Faki, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, recently received the credentials of Israel’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Burundi and Chad, Aleli Admasu.

This decision of the AU Commission to to agree the State of Israel observer status, a decision that had been rejected for nearly two decades, has sparked criticism with several African countries claiming that its admission is incompatible with the values ​​and principles of the Charter of the UA.

Many are asking for an “explanation and outright reversal” of the decision.

Israel, however, welcomes this milestone when it acknowledges that “this is a day of celebration for Israeli-African relations,” noting that the achievement “corrects the anomaly that has existed for nearly two decades.”

“Israel’s observer status will allow for greater cooperation, among other things, in the fight against Corona and the prevention of the spread of extremist terrorism throughout the continent,” the country’s foreign ministry said. said in a press release.

Happy with his decision, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was quick to congratulate the AU “for its leadership in building bridges and creating new avenues of exchange”, adding that the country welcomes “the return of Israel to the African Union as an observer within the framework of of our support for broader standardization ”.

Israel pushes to join AU

Joining the African Union is a diplomatic goal that Israel has been striving to achieve for nearly two decades.

Israel was granted observer status with the African Union on July 22, after 19 diplomatic efforts.

It previously had observer status with the Organization of African Unity (OUA) but was long thwarted in its attempts to recover it after the dissolution of the OAU in 2002 and its replacement by the AU.

The Ethiopia-based AU is a continental bloc that represents the 55 member states, most of which suffered terribly at the hands of repressive colonialists. The organization was a common front in forging socio-political progress among the membership.

Israel has serial African immigrants rejected, but he identified deepening political ties with Africa as a key foreign policy priority.

Analysts said the search for observer status with the AU is part of a wider diplomatic maneuver to secure transatlantic support, establish strategic cooperation and gain access to African markets.

“The key objective behind Israel’s long-standing efforts to accede to the AU has undermined Palestinian efforts to influence the Continental position on the situation in Israel / Palestine and, by implication, the position of independent African states on the question “, Al Jazeera analyst Marwan Bishara reports.

The status of Palestine

Meanwhile, Palestine has long had observer status with the African Union.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, regularly has the opportunity to address the organization’s summits.

For decades, African countries have supported the Palestinian liberation struggle against Israel, seeing parallels in it with their own anti-colonial movements.

Likewise, the African Union has not hesitated to criticize Israeli violations of international law and the occupation of Palestinian land.

Most recently, in May, Mr. Faki, President of the AU, condemned Israel’s war on Gaza and its violent attacks on Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Although the decision of the African Union Commission to include Israel as an observer member of the organization was taken without consulting most members, the Union assured that it have no impact on their decisions.

“The decision will not affect the position of the African Union and its firm and effective support of the continental organization for the Palestinian cause, and its commitment to embody the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to establish their own. Independent state. with Jerusalem as its capital.

He added that the African Union systems do not provide any possibility for the 87 observer states outside Africa to influence the positions of the continental organization, the determination of which is the exclusive prerogative of the member states.

Israelo-Palestinian conflict

At his July meeting with Mr. Adamsu, Mr. Faki stress the AU’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, reiterating the bloc’s position that a two-state solution was “necessary for peaceful coexistence”.

He stressed that the path to lasting peace and stability requires that the peace process and the solutions sought are not only acceptable but guarantee the rights of all parties.

Israeli authorities have committed crimes of apartheid and persecution against Palestinians, global human rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in an April report.

the 213-page report provided “descriptive or comparative” analysis in relation to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories and as a warning of what might happen if the current trajectories for the Palestinians continue.

PREMIUM TIME reported how HRW argued that, based on existing international law, comprehensive Israeli policy towards the Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem was a program to both maintain Israeli Jewish rule and systematically oppress the Palestinians.

“The Israeli government has demonstrated its intention to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the report said.

Israel, for its part, has argued that it has the right to defend itself against attacks from the Palestinian territories.

Often when hostilities begin between Israeli troops and Palestinian Hamas militants, hundreds of civilian casualties are recorded, mostly on the Palestinian side.

Rejection by AU Member States

Citing the war, some African Union member states criticized Israel’s observer status. Seven Afro-Arab countries including Algeria, Egypt, Comoros, Tunisia, Djibouti, Mauritania and Libya would have delivered a note verbale to Mr. Faki rejecting Israel’s admission to the AU.

“Taken without the benefit of broad prior consultations with all the Member States, this decision has neither vocation nor capacity to legitimize the practices and behaviors of said new observer which are totally incompatible with the values, principles and objectives enshrined in the ‘Constitution of the African Union ”, Algerian the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“The recent decision of the President of the Commission of the African Union (AU) to welcome a new observer who falls under his administrative prerogatives is not likely to alter the constant and active support of the continental organization for the fair Palestinian cause. statement read in part.

Likewise, the Namibian Minister for International Relations in an interview with Namibian Sun, said the approval did not meet basic AU principles.

“We reject this approval because it does not respect the basic principles of the African Union, which include the right to self-determination,” he said.

Likewise, South Africa called the move “shocking” and said it was “appalled” by the decision of the African Union Commission to grant Israel observer status in the bloc. African.

It noted the “unjust and unjustified” decision was taken “unilaterally without consultations with its members”.

Another country in southern Africa, Botswana, noted the issue is a “sensitive issue” that should have been brought to the attention of all AU Member States before a decision was taken.

This is also due to the long-standing conflict between Israel and Palestine, the Botswana Ministry of International Relations said.

Impact of Israel’s observer status

Israel has maintained that its observer status at the AU will allow “greater cooperation” and help its global “counterterrorism” agenda in Africa.

For their part, African countries opposing this decision believe that it could be an attempt to influence the continental position on diplomatic issues.

Analysts fear Africa will become a more open arena for Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic competition.

Likewise, issues of migratory flows and migrant smuggling could become increasingly controversial for both Israel and African countries.

AU membership is seen as a crucial step in Israel’s efforts to normalize diplomatic relations with African states, as it first did with Sudan and Morocco, as part of the U.S.-backed Abraham Accords, which followed the normalization of Israel’s ties with Chad in 2019.

Israel’s admission to the AU places it alongside 87 other observer states outside of Africa. But unlike the AU, Europe and the Asian continental blocs have not granted observer status to any African country.

Likewise, the efforts of at least two African countries to join the European Union have been unsuccessful.

Morocco, a country of North Africa, once searched become European in the same way that Cape Verde has taken steps to exit from the African Union join the European Union.

Although there has been no formal rejection of Cape Verde’s European candidacy, nor any political recognition, Morocco’s quest was categorically rejected.

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