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Why Does Israel Want To Return to African Union?

4 Min Read

Some member countries of the African Union are rejecting a lobby by Israel to return to African Union (AU) as an observer and has still not been confirmed.

In February 2022, Israel is preparing to open a new chapter in its long relationship with the continent, by obtaining observer status with the African Union (AU).

First granted last July, this accreditation was denounced in September by more than twenty member countries, upset at having been put, according to them, before the fact accomplished by Moussa Faki Mahamat.

The Chadian chairman of the AU Commission had no choice but to reconsider his position. The question will be posed to all 55 member states at the next heads of state summit, scheduled for Addis Ababa in February 2022.

A formality?

“A formality” for several Israeli observers, who are rather confident when listing their country’s support within the Pan-African organization. Officially, Israel has indeed not had so many African friends for many decades.

“We have to go back to the 1950s, when Israel had more than thirty embassies across the continent,” says researcher Emmanuel Navon.

The country then sat in the Organization of African Unity (OAU) with, already, this observer status which it is now seeking to recover. It was dispossessed of it in 2002 when the continent chose the path of the African Union.

Since the Arab-Israeli war of 1973, the continent has shown great unity on the Israeli question.

In the aftermath of the conflict, all African countries had officially severed their diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv, encouraged by an OAU largely under the influence of the Arab countries of the continent.

Twenty years after Israel’s forced departure, the most ardent opponents of its return are still the same.

They are just fewer in number than in the past, their numbers having diminished as Tel Aviv normalized its relations with the mainland in the aftermath of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

The Palestinian cause

If Libya in decline obviously no longer exercises the same influence in the AU as in the time of Muammar Gaddafi, Algeria quickly protested against the “obviousness” of the decision taken by the commission, and it quickly gathered around it the great majority of the Muslim countries of the continent, from Mauritania to Djibouti.

Only Morocco and Sudan, in the process of rapprochement with Israel, are missing, as well as Chad, which restored diplomatic relations with the latter in 2018, after the historic visit there by President Idriss Déby Itno.

The other fierce opponents of an Israeli return to the AU are to be found in the far south of the continent, in Zimbabwe, Namibia or Botswana.

These countries have followed in the footsteps of South Africa, which has become, since 1994 and the arrival of the ANC in power, the great defender of the Palestinian cause on the continent.

“Since the situation in Palestine has not changed, there is no reason for Israel’s status to change”, advances this time again the camp of the refusal, as it had already done, with success, during the requests previous ones of 2013 and 2016.

A heavy procedural battle has therefore started in Addis Ababa, scheduled to end with a simple majority vote which, if it were to be secret, could hold surprises.

Otherwise, Israel would put an end to exactly twenty years of absence, to resume its place among the 90 external partners today accredited to the AU.