A previous decision to offer Israel an observer status in the African Union has been put on hold. The decision risked to cause a historic schism among the member states in the African organization.
For a council that prioritizes unanimity, the ties with Israel has proved to be an unusual source of discord in near future. The AU Commission leader has decided to approve Israel’s accreditation to the union, prompting outrage from key nations, particularly Cape Town.
The move was welcomed by the executive director of Democracy for Arab World Now who said the African bloc did “the right thing.” Considering Israel’s apartheid policies and ongoing annexation of Palestine, Whitson believes that revoking Israel’s observer role is the best option.
“It would be particularly grotesque for Africa, which understands well the scourge of apartheid, to grant an apartheid state privileges and status,” Whitson, who was once Human Right Watch’s MENA division head, asserted in a post in twitter.
Following the new move, Tel Aviv issued a statement emphasizing the country’s capacity as an observer member for the African Union. The foreign ministry statement claimed that such a position was clearly for every group’s benefits.
“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,” Israel claimed in a part of its statement.
African Union suspended the former decision in the wake of an imminent internal rift between he long-time unified members. Most powerful and influential members of the bloc are critical of Israel. The group question Israel’s being, its apartheid practices against Palestinian in their lands, or both.
Israel in African Union
The AU summit concluded with pausing on the decision about Israel status role, postponing the decision to another time. Meanwhile, a committee are missioned with analyzing the issue with all the details in the coming months.
South Africa and Algeria, who harshly rejected Faki’s decision to accept Israeli accreditation more than half a year ago, are among the six members of the committee. Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo will most potentially be among the members of the committee.
The two latter states may support Israel in its bid to gain influence in the bloc. Cameroon may be a fifth party, considering its plea on the issue. Cape Town also called for the membership of Nigeria, reinforcing the objections against Israel’s potential seat in the Union.
No official indication exists over the timing of the committee’s study and its potential conclusion. In the same manner, the bloc’s next meeting to address the results and announce the final policy remained in haze.
Palestinian Prime Minister, speaking at the opening of the meeting two days ago, asked African countries to revoke Israeli accreditation. Calling it an “apartheid system,” Mohammed Shtayyeh urged the members to take the hasty and one-sided move into reconsideration.
South Africa asserted that it had given no consultation about the move before Faki’s announcement. The country claimed that the policy contradicted several AU pronouncements, including its commitment to the Palestinian independence.
Israel hailed the accreditation as a long-awaited success for Israeli officials. The country had been pursuing the AU membership for over two decades, facing new obstacles.
The new failure might be debilitating for Israel who had been boasting the accomplishment to boost influence across the world. Middle East, including GCC, and European Union might instigate Israel’s appetite even more.