AU’s Moussa Faki faces storm for granting Israel ‘Observer Status’

If Faki’s unilateral approval is not reversed, Israel will certainly exploit a divided Union and adversely influence the historic solidarity of the continent with Palestine, writes Iqbal Jassat.

In the midst of a full blown controversy sparked by a decision to allow Israel “observer status” at the African Union, it is crucial to note that the Zionist colonial settler regime hasn’t halted its violent plunder of Palestinian rights while relentlessly pushing ahead with illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Strange as it sounds, the bizarre fact is that the unauthorized permission by the AU Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat has resulted in leaders of the African continent facing divisive consequences of a rash, unwise and problematic decision.

Faki’s unilateral approval which if not reversed, will allow Israel to adversely influence the historic solidarity of the continent with Palestine. That it has been Israel’s game plan to nullify Palestine’s freedom struggle is a long established fact. Faki foolishly has become the latest sucker who for unknown reasons has fallen victim to this.

When news broke from Israel celebrating its admission, it is revealing to note that the AU website was conspicuously silent. Only days later did Faki Mahamat confirm it, thus giving rise to speculation and questions about the possibility of a secret back-door deal.

The resultant outrage by member states ranging from Algeria to Botswana demanding answers and implying that the admission process was flawed, has grown louder.

Lesotho has joined the chorus on the call for the rescission of Israel’s observer status and slammed Faki Mahamat’s decision as unilateral.

In a harsh critique, the South African government said it was appalled by the “unjust and unwarranted” move which it adamantly claims has been taken “unilaterally without consultations with its members”.

Also disassociting itself from the decision, the government of Botswana maintains that the continued occupation of Palestine violates the letter and spirit of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, as well as its obligation to respect and implement the respective Resolutions of the United Nations. Namibia too has expressed its disappointment and objected to Israel’s observer status.

Algeria is actively rallying support among other African countries in an effort to establish a bulwark of opposition to Faki’s move in order to have it rescinded. According to Algerian media, the country’s Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra said he would “not stand idly by in front of this step taken by Israel and the African Union without consulting the member states.”

Although mixed signals from Egypt have clouded its possible stance, to-date no official announcement has been made. Whether the Sisi regime opposes Israel’s admission or falls in line with Algeria’s initiative will in all likelihood be subject to the degree of pressure applied by the Biden administration on behalf of Israel. In other words, Egypt’s dependence on United States, will in all probability dictate that it goes along with Faki Mahamat’s unilateral decision.

At a time when popular opinion in Cairo reflected in studies undertaken by a number of universities and think tanks point to concerns about Israel’s agenda in Africa, it is nevertheless unlikely that Egypt will challenge the Zionist entity.

However if Libyan media sources are correct, embassies of Comoros, Tunisia, Djibouti, Mauritania, Libya, Algeria and Egypt submitted a strongly worded joint statement to Faki Mahamat, rejecting his decision. The joint statement is reported to have argued that the unilateral decision constitutes an unacceptable procedural and political violation of the AU’s process.

Whatever game Egypt may be playing if indeed it is one of the signatories while maintaining an official silence, it is evident that more countries have announced their rejection of the AU Commission’s decision.

Finally feeling the heat, Faki issued a belated statement providing a lame duck excuse for his decision. He said it was made on the basis of recognition of Israel and the restoration of diplomatic relations with a majority of member states.

And in an effort to seek justification for his misguided action, Faki claims the decision “falls within his full sphere of competence, without being tied to any preliminary procedure”. His statement is in defiance of the objections raised by member states who argue that he overstepped his authority.

Unless Faki is held to account and disciplined for embroiling the AU in an unacceptable messy controversy that reflects the hallmarks of a dictator, Israel is set to exploit a divided Union.

While the controversy rages on, it is important to remind AU member states to be mindful of their responsibility to adhere to various international conventions which Israel is in violation of. As a serial perpetrator, the Zionist entity is not only guilty of the crime of Apartheid; it stands accused of war crimes and incremental genocide.

International humanitarian law of occupation contains a prohibition against deporting or transferring parts of the civilian population of the Occupying Power into Occupied Territory. Such illegal transfers carried out by Israel are to alter the demographic composition of the population of the occupied territory and constitute a grave breach of Additional Protocol, as well as being listed as a war crime under the Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The case against Israel’s observer status is unambiguous and demands to rescind Faki’s decision must be heeded.

*Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of the Media Review Network, Johannesburg.

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