Africa: SA 'Appalled' By AU's Decision to Give Israel Observer Status

South African demonstrators march to Parliament to protest against Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip during May, 2021.

The South African government says it is "appalled" at the unjust and unwarranted decision of the African Union Commission (AUC) to grant Israel observer status in the African Union (AU).

"The African Union Commission has 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," the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) statement read on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the department said the AU "strenuously" objected to the deaths of Palestinians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure.

"The decision by the AU Commission in this context is inexplicable."

According to reports, Israel on Thursday obtained observer status at the AU, which it has been demanding for years and seen as a diplomatic win for the Jewish State.

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.

The department believes that the unjust actions committed by Israel offend the letter and spirit of the Charter of the AU.

"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."

South Africa said Israel continues to illegally occupy Palestine in complete defiance of its international obligations and relevant United Nations (UN) resolutions.

"It is therefore incomprehensible that the AU Commission chooses to reward Israel at a time when its oppression of Palestinians has been demonstrably more brutal."

Meanwhile, the South African government said it will ask the Chairperson of the Commission to provide a briefing to all member States on this decision which the department said hope will be discussed by the Executive Council and the Assembly of Heads of States and Government.

"South Africa 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 African Union. The African Union 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," the department added.

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