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Palestine urges African nations to object to Israel observer status move

Anadolu Agency MIDDLE EAST
Published October 13,2021

Palestine on Wednesday urged African nations to object to a recent decision by the African Union Commission to grant Israel observer status at the continental body.

"Our shared long history of solidarity and struggle against colonialism and oppression and the African legacy of anti-racism and anti-apartheid necessitates that this unfortunate nomination is discussed and reversed in the upcoming meeting of the African Union," Riad Malki, the Palestinian foreign minister wrote in an open letter.

The letter came ahead of an African Union Executive Council meeting scheduled to be held on Oct. 14-15.

Malki said Palestinian people continue to look to Africa for support and solidarity in their struggle.

"Our fight for a world free of racism is an ongoing and shared struggle, from the streets of Jerusalem to the streets of Abuja, Nairobi and Johannesburg. We have a shared duty ensure that the normalization of our dehumanization, demonization, and colonization is rooted out once and for all," he said.

The African Union Commission head Moussa Faki Mahamat in July granted observer status to Israel prompting outrage across the continent.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC), a bloc of 16 countries, also condemned the decision at a recent summit in Malawi and want it to be reviewed, while half a dozen North African countries delivered a verbal protest note to Mahamat at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia.

"South Africa firmly believes that as long as Israel is not willing to negotiate a peace plan [with Palestine] without preconditions, it should not have an observer status in the African Union," South Africa's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"The African Union cannot be a party in any way to plans and actions that would see the ideals of Palestinian statehood reduced to balkanized entities devoid of true sovereignty, without territorial contiguity and with no economic viability," it added.

In August, Mahamat said that the decision to accredit Israel to the AU falls within his full "sphere of competence," without being tied to any preliminary procedure.

In a statement, he said the decision was taken on the basis that Israel has restored diplomatic relations with more than two thirds of AU member states.

However, Na'eem Jeenah, executive director of the Afro-Middle East Center, a research institute in Johannesburg, told Anadolu Agency that "while Mahamat does have the power to grant the status, he is supposed to only do so if the applicant state conducts itself in line with the AU's Constitutive Act, and only if he knows that AU member states do not oppose the accreditation,''.

"Despite knowing that Israel's acts of occupation, colonization and apartheid violate the values and principles of the AU Constitutive Act, and despite knowing that a large number of member states have consistently opposed Israel's accreditation since 2002, Mahamat went ahead anyway," he said.

Last month, a group of international lawyers, researchers and activists filed a complaint with the African Commission on Human and People's Rights seeking the revocation of Israel's observer status at the African Union (AU).