Tel Aviv furious after Israeli delegation booted from African Union summit

The Cradle, February 18, 2023 — Israeli officials blamed Iran for the incident, alleging that ‘extremist countries’ like Algeria and South Africa are being ‘controlled’ by Tehran.

Government officials in Tel Aviv have expressed their dismay after the Israeli delegation was kicked out of the African Union (AU) summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on 18 February, allegedly at the request of Algeria and South Africa.

“Israel views seriously the incident in which the deputy for Africa, Ambassador Sharon Bar-Li, was removed from the African Union hall despite her status as an accredited observer with access badges,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Lior Hayat.

Hayat blamed Iran for the delegation’s expulsion, lamenting 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.”

An AU official who spoke with AFP said that the Israeli official who was escorted out by security was not invited to attend the meeting, as the non-transferable invitation was issued to Israel’s ambassador to the AU, Aleli Admasu.

“It is regrettable that the individual in question would abuse such a courtesy,” the official said.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesman Vincent Magwenya, meanwhile, told AFP that Israel “must substantiate their claim” about Pretoria’s alleged involvement in the incident.

Israel’s accreditation to the 55-member bloc has become a contentious issue for many member states.

The 2021 decision by African Union Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat triggered a rare dispute within a body that values consensus, with powerful member states who have suffered from apartheid and colonization, notably South Africa, loudly protesting the move.

Algeria also protested the move, arguing that it contradicted AU statements of support for the Palestinian territories.

Last year’s AU summit suspended a debate on whether to withdraw Israel’s accreditation and established a committee to address the issue.

Following Tel Aviv’s accreditation in 2021, the Palestinian resistance group Hamas strongly condemned the decision, describing it as “shocking and reprehensible.”

“The decision would legitimize the presence of the occupying Israeli regime on our lands and would give it more chances to press ahead with its plans to deny Palestinians their rights and to continue its brutal crimes against them,” the movement said in a statement.

They also called on African states, which it said “still suffer from the yoke of colonialism and racism,” to “expel” Israel from the pan-African bloc and to slap it with sanctions “until it acquiesces in truth and justice.”

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