Israeli delegation expelled from the African Union summit

AFP , Saturday 18 Feb 2023

Israel's Deputy Director for Africa at the Foreign Ministry and the other members of the Israeli delegation were expelled from the African Union conference hall in Addis Ababa on Saturday.

Members of the African Union pose for a group photo during the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly
Members of the African Union pose for a group photo during the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. AFP


The incident occurred during the opening ceremony when the security personnel of the conference approached the members of the Israeli delegation and asked them to leave the hall. 

A video circulating on social media shows guards escorting Israel's deputy director general for Africa, Sharon Bar-li, out of the AU assembly taking place in the Ethiopian capital.

A spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry described the incident as "severe. He blamed Algeria and South Africa to be behind the move.

An AU official told AFP the individual who was "asked to leave" was not invited to attend the meeting, with a non-transferable invitation only issued to Israel's ambassador to the AU, Aleli Admasu.

"It is regrettable that the individual in question would abuse such a courtesy," AU Commission chief's spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said.

Asked about Israel's accusations, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's spokesman Vincent Magwenya told AFP at the summit: "They must substantiate their claim."

Israel attained observer status at the AU in 2021. The decision by AU Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat triggered loud protests by powerful member states, notably South Africa and Algeria, which argued that it flew in the face of AU statements supporting the Palestinians.

Last year, unease flared over the accreditation of Israel as an observer at the AU, with the Palestinians urging it to be withdrawn.

The 2022 summit suspended a debate on whether to withdraw the accreditation and a committee was formed to address the issue.

The AU has not said whether Israel's status would be up for discussion at this year's summit.

Speaking at the Summit, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that the time has come to hold Israel to account for its crimes against our Palestinian people, and to condemn it at the level of the International Court of Justice.

Shtayyeh said the racist Israeli government has clearly stated that the Jewish people have the exclusive right to all the land of Israel, which is the land of Palestine, which means Israel’s desire to seize more lands and build colonial settlements in violation of all international covenants and laws, reported the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

The Palestinian Prime Minister urged the international community to exert more efforts to end the Israeli occupation of the land of the State of Palestine, noting that 50 Palestinian civilians have been killed by the Israeli occupation forces since the beginning of the year.

Concerning the political process, Shtayyeh said, “We are facing a dangerous political vacuum that we need to fill. We need to revive the Arab Peace Initiative in order to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and all occupied Arab lands on the 1967 borders. We are also working to strengthen our home front, and we thank Algeria, Egypt and Africa for hosting the Palestinian reconciliation meetings.” 

All eyes are on the AU to see if it can achieve ceasefires in the Sahel and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where M23 rebels have seized swathes of territory and sparked a diplomatic row between Kinshasa and Rwanda's government, which is accused of backing the rebels.

* This story has been edited by Ahram Online.

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