Seven African states condemn AU granting Israel observer status

Massive demonstration in Tunis in May against Israel’s attacks on Palestinans

SEVEN African Arab states have rejected a recent decision by the African Union (AU) Commission to grant the Israeli regime an observer status at the continental body.

Several Arab media outlets, including London-based al-Araby Al-Jadeed, reported that the embassies of Algeria, Egypt, Comoros, Tunisia, Djibouti, Mauritania and Libya in Ethiopia had sent a letter of protest to Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission, objecting to the measure.
They said the decision to grant Israel observer status at the AU contradicts the African bloc’s support for the Palestinian cause and its other principles.
The countries condemned the step as ‘unacceptable’ and an act of political abuse by the AU Commission’s chairman of his executive authority.
The seven African Arab states also requested that the issue be put up for discussion at the AU’s next foreign ministerial meeting, which is due to be held in October.
The London-based online newspaper Rai al-Youm reported that Algeria has officially begun the process of forming a group of African countries to oppose Tel Aviv’s membership in the African Union in order to preserve the principles of the union and to support Palestine.
According to the report, South Africa, Tunisia, Eritrea, Senegal, Tanzania, Niger, Comoros, Gabon, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Mali and Seychelles are the countries that have agreed to expel Israel from the 55-member African Union.
Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra has stressed that his country would not stand idly by the African Union’s move which was taken without any consultation with its member states.
Namibia joined South Africa and several continental civil society groups on July 29 to reject the African Union Commission’s recent decision to grant Israel observer status at the regional body.
‘Granting observer status to an occupying power is contrary to the principles and objectives of the Constitutive Act of the African Union,’ Penda Naanda, executive director of Namibia’s Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, said in a statement.
Naanda said it was wrong to grant Israel observer status, particularly at a time when the regime is increasing its acts of oppression in total violation of international law and disregard for the human rights of the Palestinian people.
He also said the AU Commission’s decision was against the usual firm and solid commitments made by several African heads of state and government who unequivocally support the Palestinian cause.
‘Namibia therefore disassociates itself from granting observer status to Israel,’ it said.
The southern African nation said Israel can only be granted observer status at the AU on the condition that it ceases to occupy Palestine and grants the Palestinian people the right to self-determination.
On July 22, Israel attained observer status at the AU after nearly 20 years of lobbying.
Israel previously held observer status in the predecessor Organisation of African Unity until 2002, when the organisation was disbanded and replaced by the AU.
Pro-Palestine language is typically featured in statements delivered at the AU’s annual summits.
Palestine already has observer status at the African Union.
Meanwhile the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates has slammed the ‘racist role’ of the Israeli courts in dealing with the Palestinians’ displacement from their homes, saying the regime’s judiciary is complicit in the ethnic cleansing of people in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
The ministry released a statement on Tuesday in reaction to the move by Israel’s so-called Supreme Court to delay a final verdict on the expulsion of four Palestinian families from their homes in the occupied East al-Quds neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, claiming that it has not sufficiently heard arguments from both sides of the case, Palestine’s official Wafa news agency reported.
It added that despite the presentation of documents obtained from Jordan proving the families’ ownership of their homes, the court refrained from recognising the evidence and accepting the existing facts.
Despite the fact, the court attempted to circumvent the Palestinian families’ right to their homes by pressuring them to recognise the settlers’ ownership of the land and houses in return for staying in their homes for a long but limited period of time, the ministry added.
It emphasised that the court used deceit and duplicity to find ways to support the settlers’ allegations and claims of ownership of the Palestinian land and homes.
‘The occupation courts play a racist role with regard to the displacement of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood for a political end that does not have legal reference in order to reach one goal and that is to legitimise the settlers’ claims of ownership of the land, and to whitewash the forged documents they submitted,’ the foreign ministry said.
In all cases in al-Quds, the statement added, the Israeli occupation courts used such clear and repetitive racism, which is ‘a part of an expansionist colonial strategy based on an attempt to provide legal immunity for the Judaisation and Israelisation of Jerusalem and its holy places, and the ethnic cleansing of the largest possible number of its indigenous population.’
On Monday, Israel’s so-called Supreme Court suggested a compromise deal stipulating that the Palestinian families would concede ownership of their homes to far-right settler organisation Nahalat Shimon, the plaintiff seeking to take over the homes, in exchange for being allowed to remain in their homes as ‘protected tenants.’
However, no agreement was reached on the suggested deal, which notably required that the families pay rent to Nahalat Shimon.
Elsewhere in its statement, the Foreign Ministry said the Israeli courts’ decisions regarding the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood are condemned as they are further evidence that the Israeli judicial system is an integral part of the occupation and a tool for serving colonial settlement plans.
It commended international support for the Palestinian families’ right to stay in their homes but emphasised that such positions are insufficient and should be translated into practical steps.
The international community’s efforts should urge Israel to immediately recognise the right of the families of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood to own their homes without any delay and to stop displacing the Palestinian citizens.
Earlier on Monday, hundreds of people gathered outside Israel’s top court in al-Quds ahead of the decision in order to show support for Palestinian families facing eviction from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.
Since Israel seized East al-Quds in the 1967 war, Israeli settler organisations have claimed ownership of land in Sheikh Jarrah and have filed multiple lawsuits to evict Palestinians from the area.
Speaking during a weekly cabinet meeting in the central West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called upon the international community to put an end to the Israeli regime’s policies of persecution, racism, and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and Silwan, which are being carried out in order to make way for Israeli settlers.

  • The Israeli regime plans to ratify a hugely controversial and illegal construction project that will manipulate the holy occupied city of al-Quds’ demography and the status of its borders.

Reporting on Tuesday, the Arab48 news website said the regime was to railroad the scheme that seeks to expand the Atarot settlements in the north of al-Quds by a whopping 9,000 settler units.
Upon completion, the project will have divided the Palestinian communities, thus squeezing their numbers in the city in exchange for increasing the population of settlers.
The project features an industrial zone, commercial centres, hotels, water reservoirs, and other facilities.
The structures would be crowding the land that lies in the vicinity of al-Quds International Airport right up to the so-called ‘separation barrier,’ thus supposedly enlarging the city’s contours in favour of the occupying regime.
The project used to be passionately championed by former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. However, it was frowned upon even by the administration of former US President Donald Trump, despite Trump’s huge pro-Tel Aviv lean.
Now, the regime has brought the scheme out of mothballs and seeks to railroad it before a pending visit by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to the White House.
Tel Aviv seeks to move ahead with the project’s implementation, despite strong warnings from various sides that the regime is tampering with the status quo in al-Quds, which is crisscrossed with different religious and demographic communities.
Observers, meanwhile, put it past Trump’s successor Joe Biden to put up any opposition to the plan. They cite the Biden administration’s more favourable stance towards the new Israeli officials compared to its relations with Netanyahu and his team.