By John Ikani
The African Union (AU) on Sunday postponed a debate on whether Israel’s observer status should be withdrawn, avoiding a division, the pan-African body’s newly elected Chairman for 2022 said.
Interacting with reporters on the finish of the two-day Summit on Sunday, the AU’s newly elected Chairman Macky Sall said the union agreed to postpone the vote till the following Summit in 2023.
“This situation can divide us, Africa can’t be divided,” he instructed reporters, saying such growth would lead to a fragile establishment that will not successfully deal with main points.
He added that a Committee has been arranged with the aim of consulting with member states and constructing a consensus on the matter.
“It will likely be composed of eight heads of state and governments, and can current its suggestions on the subsequent summit,” Sall mentioned.
The dispute was set in motion in July last year when Moussa Faki Mahamat, chair of the AU Commission, accepted unilaterally Israel’s accreditation to the bloc, triggering protests by a number of member states.
Mahamat who briefed the media with Sall, 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The decision to grant Israel an observer status is a reward that does not deserve, and we call for this decision to be withdrawn.”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.