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July 22, 2021 5:22 pm

Israel to Rejoin African Union as Observer, Eyeing More Support in Global Forums

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avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Ambassador of the State of Israel to Ethiopia, Burundi & Chad, Alelil Admasu (left) meeting with African Union Chairperson H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat. Photo: African Union Commission

Israel will regain observer country status at the 55-state African Union after almost twenty years outside the group, in the hopes of winning more diplomatic backing in global forums and of better cooperation in fighting terrorism and the pandemic.

“This is a day of celebration for Israel-Africa relations. This diplomatic achievement is the result of consistent work by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, its African Division and Israeli embassies on the continent,” Israel Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid said. “This corrects the anomaly that has existed for almost two decades and is an important part of strengthening the fabric of Israel’s foreign relations. It will help us strengthen our activities on the African continent and with the member states of the organization.”

The African Union consists of the 55 member states comprising the African continent, with the aim of driving growth and global economic development. It was officially launched in 2002 in Durban as a successor to the Organization of African Unity.

“This has been brewing for a while,” Jonathan Ferziger, Jerusalem-based non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told The Algemeiner. “Under [former Israeli prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, Israel has been seeking to regain observer status to try and rebalance the African nations’ vote in the United Nations.”

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“It is significant as it means that Israel is in the mix when big decisions are being made about projects, for example in infrastructure. But also in areas like agritech, high-tech and cybersecurity, this could provide Israeli companies with customers,” he said.

Israel’s ambassador to Addis Ababa, Aleleign Admasu, submitted Israel’s charter as an observer member. During the meeting, Admasu and African Union Commission chairperson H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat discussed the long-standing issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mahamat emphasized the AU’s position of the necessity of a two-state solution for a peaceful co-existence.

Israel has relations with 46 countries in Africa, and has wide ranging partnerships and joint cooperation in a range of fields, including trade and aid. In recent years, Israel has renewed its diplomatic ties with Chad and Guinea.

In October 2020, Sudan normalized ties with the Jewish state as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords.

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