South Africa says decision to grant Israel observer status at AU must be rescinded

Naledi Pandor

Pretoria – South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor and Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riad Malki agreed on Friday to work together to have Israel’s observer’s status at the African Union (AU) rescinded.

“There can be no justification for AU chairperson granting observer status to Israel. The decision was totally inexplicable and we will continue to argue that the decision should be rescinded,’’ Pandor said during a bilateral meeting at her department’s headquarters in the capital Pretoria.

Pandor said South Africa would push for the AU ministerial assembly meeting in Ethiopia next week to discuss the controversial decision by the AU Commission to grant Israel observer status.

Malki said events this year had indicated a decline in international tolerance for what he called Israel’s crimes.

“It is so strange that at a time when the world looks at Israel as an apartheid state, AU discusses Israel’s admission as an observer. It sends a very strange message to the world about how AU admits observers,” Malki said.

The host and visiting Palestine delegation agreed that in the absence of sustainable peace in the Middle East region there could be no global peace, stability, and economic prosperity.

The two countries also called on the international community to further strengthen their support for the return of all parties to the negotiation table without pre-conditions.

A joint communiqué issued by South Africa’s department of international relations and cooperation said Palestinians had endured countless injustices and an ongoing cycle of destruction, displacement, and dispossession, as well as the progressive fragmentation of their territory under Israeli occupation and its colonial settlement policy.

This year the world witnessed some of the worst violence by Israeli security forces against Palestinian civilians, both in the Al Aqsa mosque compound and in Gaza, much of which is being investigated as war crimes.

The United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders and other organisations have said that the 11 day Israeli military onslaught on Gaza in May likely constituted “war crimes”.

While the African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat condemned the Israeli air strikes on civilian areas and violence against Palestinian worshippers at the time, calling them a violation of international law, less than two months later he granted Israel observer status at the AU.

African News Agency (ANA)