May 24, 2024, Friday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

African Union says Israel’s observer status suspended

The Nepal Weekly
February 21, 2023

The African Union has announced that Israel’s observer status at the bloc was suspended which is why it was not invited to attend the weekend summit.

The news comes after Israeli ambassador Sharon Bar-li was ousted  from the African Union’s annual summit in Ethiopia on Saturday as she attempted to attend using a non-transferable invitation issued only to Israel’s ambassador to the African Union, Aleli Admasu.

Video spreading on social media showed guards escorting Bar-li out of the AU assembly hall in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The incident highlighted a spat within the pan-African bloc over a unilateral 2021 decision taken by Mahamat to give Israel observer status, triggering protests by several member states. Israel obtained observer status after two decades of diplomatic efforts. It had previously held the role at the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) but was long thwarted in its attempts to regain it after the OAU was disbanded in 2002 and replaced by the AU.

The Israeli foreign ministry said at the time that the new status could enable Israel and the AU to forge stronger cooperation on various aspects, including the fight against the coronavirus and the prevention “of the spread of extremist terrorism” on the African continent.

Last year’s AU summit suspended a debate on whether to withdraw the accreditation and established a committee of heads of state to address the issue.

The African Union’s decision to award Israel the status was “even more shocking in a year in which the oppressed people of Palestine were hounded by destructive bombardments and continued illegal settlements of the land,” said the South African government.

South Africa backs the Palestinian cause, with formal diplomatic relations established in 1995, a year after the end of apartheid. It downgraded its embassy in Tel Aviv to a liaison office in 2019.