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October 28, 2021 3:26 pm

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi Reaffirms Support for Israeli Observer Status at African Union During Jerusalem Visit

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Felix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is seen in the capital Kinshasa. Photo: Reuters/Olivia Acland

Felix Tshisekedi, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on Thursday reaffirmed his support for Israel’s observer status at the African Union (AU) — the regional organization with 55 member states from across the African continent.

At a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem, Tshisekedi, who also serves as Chairman of the AU, pledged to continue to supporting Israel’s accession to the AU. Tshisekedi also promised to boost DR Congo’s bilateral ties with Israel through the forthcoming opening of an economic mission in the Israeli capital.

Israel was accepted as an observer by the AU in July. 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.

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Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority urged the AU to revoke Israel’s observer status. Israel “must be held accountable and exposed, not rewarded and accommodated,” PA Foreign Minister Riyad Malki wrote in an Oct. 14 letter to the AU’s Executive Council.

Tshisekedi’s meeting with Bennett followed his talks on Wednesday with Israeli President Isaac Herzog. At a joint press conference, Herzog alluded to billboard posters that had appeared in Israel declaring, “Felix, stop the corrupt antisemitic discrimination!” — an apparent reference to the Jewish origins of Tshisekedi’s main political rival in DR Congo, Moise Katumbi.

“The State of Israel supports unconditionally your firm leadership,” Herzog told his guest.

Tshisekedi received an award at a ceremony in Jerusalem on Thursday in honor of his visit. The Jewish National Fund of South Africa and the South African Friends of Israel presented Tshisekedi with their inaugural “Israel Africa Olive Tree Award,” which recognizes leaders who promote closer ties between Israel and Africa.

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