West News Wire: Because delegates from South Africa and Algeria apparently objected to the participation of diplomats from the apartheid Tel Aviv administration in the event, an Israeli observer team at the African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital city of Addis Ababa was removed from the opening ceremony.
Security officers approached the Israeli delegation during the event on Saturday and told them to leave, according to the Israeli Walla news website, which broke the story first.
After a lengthy dispute, the Israelis, led by Deputy Director General for Africa of the Foreign Ministry Sharon Bar-Li, are seen leaving on camera.
Back in early February last year, the African Union (AU) suspended a debate on whether to grant Israel an observer status at the continental body, avoiding a vote that risked creating an unprecedented rift in the 55-member bloc.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh at the time urged African leaders to withdraw the accreditation, saying Israel should “never be rewarded for its violation and for the apartheid regime it does impose on Palestinian people.”
The AU’s Chairman Macky Sall told reporters at the end of the two-day summit back then that there was an agreement to postpone the vote.
“This issue can divide us, Africa cannot be divided,” he said, noting that such a development would result in a fragile institution that may not effectively tackle major issues. He said a committee has been set up with the goal of consulting with member states and building a consensus on the matter.
Israel was granted observer status in the African Union in July 2021. The accreditation drew a sharp rebuke from powerful members of the AU, including South Africa and Algeria, which argued that it contradicted AU statements supporting the occupied Palestinian territories.
Pro-Palestine language is typically featured in statements delivered at the AU’s annual summits. Palestine already has observer status at the African Union.