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October 5, 2021 2:43 pm

Civil Society Organizations Issue Impassioned Appeal to African Union to Reaffirm Israel’s Observer Status

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(Illustrative) Members of Africans for Peace make the peace sign during a visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Photo: Africans for Peace

A growing number of African civil society organizations have endorsed a petition urging the African Union (AU) to reaffirm the admission of the State of Israel as an observer member at its Executive Council meeting next week.

Israel was accepted as an observer by the AU in July, when Chad Aleli Admasu, the Israeli Ambassador to Ethiopia and Burundi, presented his credentials to Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission, at the bloc’s headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. The Jewish state had previously held observer status with the AU’s predecessor, the Organization of African Unity, but had been thwarted for nearly 20 years in its bid to rejoin the regional grouping until the breakthrough this past summer.

Hosted by the Africa-Israel Chamber of Commerce (AICC), the petition declares that the “recent decision to grant Israel observer status in the African Union is of vital importance.”

Noting that at “the beginning of the African states’ liberation from colonial rule in 1957-1960 … the State of Israel was among the first countries to extend substantial assistance to the newly independent countries and their awakening peoples,” the petition lists a range of current development programs undertaken by Israel on the continent in education, healthcare and agriculture.

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“The admittance to the African Union of Israel is part of the continent’s drive towards a better future,” it states. “We call on all those with a vision for this future to support the Israeli-African cooperation for the benefit of all the peoples of our beloved continent.”

Several civil society organizations from across Africa have already signed onto the petition, among them MOZION and BETHEL, two religious groups based in the Christian community in Mozambique; Africa Bless Israel and La Nouvelle Société Civile Congolaise in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and the Africa the Dream Land International Foundation in Nigeria.

Hundreds of individuals have also signed the petition, from Botswana, Kenya and South Africa, among other countries.

In South Africa — whose fiercely pro-Palestinian government has been waging a diplomatic campaign to keep Israel out of the AU —  advocacy group South African Friends of Israel (SAFI) made their case for Israel’s presence at the AU in a video released on Tuesday.

“We urge you as leaders of the continent to stand up for the truth,” said SAFI spokesperson Bafana Modise. “We urge you as leaders to defend this relationship. God will bless those who bless Israel.”

The AU’s Executive Council will meet in Addis Ababa on October 13-14.

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