Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

South Africa appalled that Israel given AU observer status

The South African government has condemned the decision by the African Union Commission (AUC) to grant Israel observer status in the continental body.

Israel attained this status after nearly 20 years of diplomatic efforts on 22 July when its ambassador to Ethiopia, Burundi and Chad, Aleli Admasu, presented his credentials to Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairperson of the AUC, in Addis Ababa.

Israel, which has relations with 46 of the AU member states, enjoyed observer status with the Organisation of African Unity until 2002 when the organisation dissolved itself and became the AU.

In a statement issued by the department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco) on Wednesday, the South African government said the AUC had “taken this decision unilaterally without consultations with its members”.

“The decision to grant Israel observer status is 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,” it added.

Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the decision was incomprehensible, especially at a time when Israeli oppression on Palestinian citizens was “demonstrably more brutal”.

“The AU strenuously objected to the deaths of Palestinians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. The decision by the AUC in this context is inexplicable. The unjust actions committed by Israel offend the letter and spirit of the charter of the AU,” Monyela said.

“The AU embodies the aspirations of all Africans and reflects their confidence that it can lead the continent through the practical expression of the goals of the charter, especially on issues relating to self-determination and decolonisation. Israel continues to illegally occupy Palestine in complete defiance of its international obligations and relevant UN resolutions.”

In May, tensions between Palestine and Israel flared when an Israeli court decided that soldiers were allowed to evict Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem to make way for Israeli settlements. This led to weeks of violence.

South Africa reiterated its stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict when President Cyril Ramaphosa said Israel’s actions were a violation of international law and that South Africa stood with the Palestinian people “in their quest for self-determination, but also in their resistance against the deprivation of their human rights and the denial of their dignity”.

Pretoria will now ask the AUC’s Faki to provide a briefing to all member states on the decision, to then hopefully be discussed by the executive council and ​​the assembly of heads of states and government.

“SA firmly believes that as long as Israel is not willing to negotiate a peace plan without preconditions, it should not have observer status in the AU. The AU cannot be a party in any way to plans and actions that would see the ideal of Palestinian statehood reduced into balkanised entities devoid of true sovereignty, without territorial contiguity and with no economic viability,” Manyela concluded.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia is a member of the Mail & Guardian's online team.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

‘The children cannot cope any more’: Suicide in Calvinia highlights...

How Covid-19 has intensified the physical and emotional burdens placed on children’s shoulders.

Capitec Bank flies high above Viceroy’s arrow

The bank took a knock after being labelled a loan shark by the short seller, but this has not stymied its growth

More top stories

Covid-19: No vaccine booster shots needed yet

Scientists agree it is important to get most of the population vaccinated before giving booster jabs

The convenient myth of an Africa spared from Covid-19

There are few, if any, studies to support Pfizer chief executive’s assertion that the global south would be more vaccine-hesitant than the north

Council wants Hawks, SIU probe into BAT’s Zimbabwe scandal

The cigarette maker has been accused of giving up to $500 000 in bribes and spying on competitors

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…