Above Photo: A protest calling for the boycott of Israel in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 31 May 2019. Afro-Palestine Newswire Service.
The head of the AU commission confirmed Israel’s observer status remains suspended.
An investigation is ongoing to discover how Israeli officials entered the opening ceremony.
In the closing statement of the 36th ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Assembly held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the regional bloc confirmed its “complete support” for the State of Palestine.
The AU condemned ongoing Israeli crimes against Palestinians, including forced evictions, extrajudicial detentions, illegal settlement expansion, and apartheid.
This statement came just one day after an Israeli delegation was unceremoniously booted from the summit’s opening ceremony.
On Sunday, AU commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat confirmed that Israel’s observer status has been suspended since last year and that no Israeli officials were invited to the summit this year.
“Last year, we discussed the question of Israel’s status as an observer in the African Union. Following these various discussions, the conference decided to set up an ad hoc committee of heads of state on the question, which means that the statute is suspended until this committee can deliberate. And so we did not invite Israeli officials to our summit,” Mahamat declared.
“We found that there is a personality who entered the room with a badge and, naturally, we asked him to leave the premises. We are in the process of making the necessary investigations because he does not reside here, he came from Israel, and whenever someone arrives here, he is invited, he is invited by the chairperson of the African Union Commission. The official was not invited,” the AU official added.
In 2021, Mahamat granted Israel observer status to the AU, causing an uproar across the pan-African bloc and sparking protests, particularly from Algeria and South Africa.
Tel Aviv blamed Iran and what it called a “handful of extremist states like Algeria and South Africa” for Saturday’s public humiliation of its officials.
The Israeli foreign ministry has said it plans to summon the South African ambassador for a reprimand, stressing in a statement that Tel Aviv “looks harshly upon the incident.”
The ministry also said that the South African charge d’affaires would be summoned for a reprimand by the Israeli ministry’s Director General, Ronen Levy.
“There is no basis in the organization’s rules for the attempt to cancel Israel’s observer status,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry added.