Israel's observer status at African Union blasted by 200 figures across continent
More than 200 distinguished figures across Africa have objected to the African Union (AU) Commission’s decision to grant Israel observer status, asking the bloc to reverse the measure.
The personalities, who include people from diverse political and cultural movements and represent different nationalities, backgrounds, political parties, and religious associations, signed a protest petition which the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine had called for.
Global Campaign to Return to Palestine members had called on Africans to support the petition and take concrete measures “to bring down the illegitimate decision that goes against African interests and humanitarian values.”
The signatories likened the Palestinian cause to an African struggle, and pointed to the longstanding support that Africans have offered to Palestinian factions and liberation movements.
Africa and Palestine form one inseparable cause, and they are struggling against colonial powers, they said.
The petition denounced the decision by AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat as “shocking,” saying the move violates the principles upon which the African Union has been established.
The signatories said African and Palestinian nations stand together against normalization of diplomatic relations with Israel, arguing that recent steps by some Arab states and the AUC's chairperson are in line with US and European guidelines.
They called on the African Union to withdraw the decision, and to apologize to African nations and the Palestinian people for the offensive measure.
On August 7, Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra chastised the chairman of the AU Commission for defending his decision, saying insistence on the measure will eventually result in the breakup of the regional organization.
The Ethiopia-based AU is a continental bloc that represents all 55 Member States, most of whom suffered terribly at the hands of repressive colonialists.
For decades, African countries have supported the Palestinians' struggle against Israeli occupation and oppression, seeing in it parallels with their own anti-colonial movements.
Likewise, the African Union has not hesitated to criticize Israeli violations of international law and the occupation of Palestinian lands.
According to a report by London-based online newspaper Rai al-Youm, Algeria has officially began forming a group of African countries opposed to Israel’s membership in the African Union in order to preserve the principles of the union and to support Palestine.
Lamamra has stressed that his country would not stand idly by the African Union’s move which was adopted without any consultation with its member states.
African nations have condemned Israel’s barbaric crimes against Palestinians, including the recent bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip.
In April, US-based Human Rights Watch accused Israel of crimes against humanity by pursing policies of "apartheid" and persecution against Palestinians.
The word apartheid is often associated with South Africa. Apartheid was a system of institutionalized racial segregation that existed in South Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s.
The system was characterized by an authoritarian political culture based on white supremacy, which ensured that South Africa was dominated politically, socially, and economically by the nation's minority white population.