South African Government Spearheads Regional Group’s Objection to Israeli Rejoining African Union
The South African government’s diplomatic campaign to exclude Israel from the international community escalated on Wednesday, as a regional grouping of southern African states roundly condemned the decision last month to admit the Jewish state to the African Union (AU) as an observer member.
In a formal statement, the 16 member states composing the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said that it “objected to the unilateral decision taken by the African Union Commission to grant the State of Israel Observer Status to the African Union.”
Clayson Monyela, a spokesperson for South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation, said that the Pretoria government had played a “central role” in lobbying for the SADC’s statement.
“It is significant when you have a regional body of the African Union speaking in one voice on such a matter. It carries weight,” Monyela told local news outlet News 24.
Monyela claimed that the AU’s decision to admit Israel had been taken without the usual “collective debate,” pointing to what the SADC described as “a unilateral decision by the African Union Commissioner.”
AU Commissioner Moussa Faki Mahamat said that the objections to Israel voiced by the SADC, as well as an Algerian-led bloc of AU member states, would be discussed at an October meeting of the pan-African grouping.
Mahamat defended the decision to admit Israel as an observer, but stressed the “unflinching commitment of the Pan-African Organization to the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to establish an independent national state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, within the framework of a global, fair and definitive peace between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine.”
The Palestinian Authority praised the SADC’s campaign against Israel on Thursday, calling it part of the “shared long history of solidarity and struggle against colonialism and oppression between the Palestinian and African peoples.”
“The State of Palestine also calls on African States to push for accountability for Israel’s crimes and not associate themselves with the only remaining and most brutal colonial project in the world today,” the PA said in a statement.