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Friday, February 23, 2024

Senior Israeli Diplomat Expelled From African Union Summit


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Israel’s Foreign Ministry said an Israeli delegation of observers at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa was barred from Saturday’s opening ceremony, blaming South Africa and Algeria for the serious diplomatic breach.

According to the WionNews website, which first reported the incident, security forces approached the Israeli delegation during the opening ceremony and told them to leave.

The videotape showed the Israelis, led by the State Department’s Deputy Director General for Africa Sharon Bar-Li, walking away after several minutes of argument.

Ministry spokesman Lior Hayat said: “Israel takes seriously the incident in which Deputy African Ambassador Sharon Bar-Li was expelled from the African Union Hall with access badges, despite her status as an accredited observer.”


“It is sad to see that the African Union has been taken hostage by a small number of extremist countries such as Algeria and South Africa, driven by hatred and controlled by Iran,” Hayat said.

“We call on the African countries to stand against these actions that harm the organization of the African Union itself and the entire continent,” he said.

Also on Saturday, it was announced that the charge d’affaires at the South African embassy in Israel would be summoned in the coming days to be briefed by the ministry’s director general, Ronen Levy.

Also, read; South African water Utility, Rand Water Constructing World’s Largest Post-Tensioned Concrete Reservoir

“There is no basis in the organization’s rules for an attempt to revoke Israel’s observer status,” the State Department said. “There is a clear majority that supports Israel’s observer status in the organization.”

The African Union did not respond to a request for comment on the incident.

When asked about Israel’s accusations against South Africa and Algeria of being behind the move, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesman Vincent Magwenya told AFP at the summit: ” They must substantiate their claim.”

The issue of Israel’s observer status has caused deep fissures in the 55-member bloc.

At last year’s summit, debate on the issue was suspended to avoid a vote that would create an unprecedented split in the union.

Instead, a committee was created to present its recommendations at this year’s summit.

Senior Israeli Diplomat Expelled From African Union Summit

The relationship with Israel is a rare sticking point for a body that values consensus, with powerful member states, notably South Africa, vehemently protesting a 2021 decision by Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chair of the African Union Commission, to grant accreditation accept Israel to the African Union.

The six-member panel would include South Africa and Algeria, who opposed Faki’s decision to accredit Israel, and Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who supported it.

Diplomats said at the time Cameroon had also asked to join the committee, while South Africa had asked Nigeria to join.


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