update deskIsrael at War

Israel sinks effort to oust it from African Union

The Jewish state will retain its observer status.

African Union foreign ministers meet in Addis Ababa ahead of the leadership summit, Feb. 14, 2024. Source: African Union/X.
African Union foreign ministers meet in Addis Ababa ahead of the leadership summit, Feb. 14, 2024. Source: African Union/X.

Israel has thwarted an effort by South Africa and Algeria to deprive it of observer status in the African Union, the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said on Tuesday.

The two African countries had also planned to urge the union’s 55 member states to cut off relations with Israel and to introduce a proposal that would declare Israel guilty of genocide for its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“There was an event which had the potential to cause very serious damage but we were able to successfully repel the South African and Algerian attempts,” the Deputy Director General of the Ministry’s Africa Division, Sharon Bar -Li, told Kan radio.

The successful pushback, which was led by Foreign Minister Israel Katz, also included President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

All three men sent appeals and spoke with African leaders. Israeli embassies in Africa enlisted in the effort to scuttle the move as well, with Foreign Ministry officials sent to states in which Israel does not have a permanent diplomatic presence.

The initiative to oust Israel from the union, as well as the effort to have the Union cut off relations with Israel and accuse it of genocide, all failed in a weekend vote at the organization’s annual conference in Ethiopia, as a coalition of African states formed to oppose the move.

Nevertheless, leaders at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa this weekend still condemned Israel’s offensive in Gaza and called for its immediate end.

Israel was granted observer status in 2021 after a two-decade struggle to regain entry to the organization dating back to the dissolution of the union’s precursor, the Organization of African Unity.

African Union observer members include China, Greece, Kuwait, Mexico, “Palestine,” the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. The status grants a country the ability to participate in the organization’s activities.

The torpedoed anti-Israel effort came a year after a senior Israeli diplomat was unceremoniously removed from the African Union’s annual summit amid a row over the country’s observer status. At the time, Jerusalem blamed the incident on South Africa and Algeria, saying that they were holding the union hostage, driven by both hate and Iranian influence.

After the war in Gaza broke out, South Africa took Israel to the U.N.’s International Court of Justice on genocide charges, cementing itself as one of the most outspoken countries against Israel in the world.

“Regretfully South Africa has not overcome its apartheid past and instead of progressing with the rest of the African continent has regressed to become a proxy of the Iraninan regime as we previously saw with the weaponization of the ICJ against Israel,” said Dan Diker, President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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