African Union to Vote on Revoking Israel's Newly Restored Observer Status

Getting the vote on the table was described as a 'success' by Algeria, which has spearheaded the campaign ■ Major players like Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa back it, but still no clear majority

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Chairperson of the African Union Félix Tshisekedi, in France, May 2021.
Chairperson of the African Union Félix Tshisekedi, in France, May 2021.Credit: POOL/ REUTERS

The African Union will vote next week on revoking Israel's observer status, even though it is unclear whether a majority are in favor.

Algerian diplomats who are spearheading the motion told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that getting the vote on “top of the agenda” for Saturday's summit in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa was a “success.”

Major African countries, specifically in North Africa and southern Africa, have joined the push to rescind Israel's newly reinstated position as an observer state, one of dozens of non-African countries and organizations with the same status.

Israel was readmitted into the 55-nation pan-African bloc as an observer in July 2021, in a decision announced by Chadian Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union Commission. This came 19 years after Israel was ousted due to pressure by Libyan leader at the time Muammar Gadhafi.

Israeli officials have been pushing for a seat on the AU since its suspension shortly after the union was formed in 2002 as the successor to the Organization of African Unity.

Some countries pushed back against Israel's readmission immediately, mainly citing Israel's policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians, but there was also criticism of the chairperson for making the decision on Israel without a vote.

Algeria has taken over Libya's historic role in opposing Israel's membership, and its diplomats told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed they were still working to ensure the vote passes. 

Israel has diplomatic relations with most African nations, but some of them, like South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt, are said to back the Algerian-led initiative.

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