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Palestinian and African groups urge AU to revoke Israel’s observer status

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This week, African and Palestinian groups urged the AU to remove Israel as an observer state.
As the African Union (AU) executive committee prepares to meet on October 13, Palestinian and African civil society groups are urging the continental body to review a recent decision by AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, granting Israel observer status at the AU.

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On Wednesday, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement – the largest coalition of Palestinian civil society representing over 170 groups – called on AU member states to reject Israel’s observer status when they meet at the next Executive Council meeting.

In an open letter to the African Union, the BDS national committee (BNC) expressed its gratitude to the AU for rejecting previous Israeli requests for observer status. Member states had stated that such a decision would have violated the principles of the organization.

“We want to remind the AU and member states that Israeli policies and crimes against our people [the Palestinians] have not changed but are worsening daily. We call on all those that are still hesitant to take a position to join the growing efforts to keep apartheid Israel out of the African Union,” said the BNC.

Palestinian group, Al-Haq have also written to AU representatives to express concern about Israel being granted observer status at the AU. “The AU should be leading the fight against institutionalized racial domination and oppression and not reward Israel, an apartheid state, with a privileged status.”

African groups join Palestinian call

African groups are supporting the Palestinian call to remove Israel’s observer status.

On Wednesday, Senegalese trade unions and civil society groups urged AU member states to reverse Mahamat’s decision when they meet in mid-October.

“How can a country that advocates colonization, apartheid, state terrorism, the flagrant and constant violation of United Nations resolutions on Palestine from 1947 to the present day, that engages in crimes against humanity and denies the right of peoples to self-determination, be granted today the status of observer member of the AU, which it has been denied since 2002? The only correct attitude is, in accordance with the tradition of the AU, to decide, by consensus, not to admit Israel as an observer member,” read a joint statement from 24 Senegalese groups.

Signatories include the Senegalese branch of Amnesty International, Senegalese Social Forum, FRAPP Senegal, the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Senegal, and several developmental and democracy groups.

“If Israel’s observer status is ratified at the next AU Executive Council, that would be in flagrant contradiction with the Constitutive Act of the Union, as well as with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and, more generally, with the best interests of the entire African continent,” warned the Senegalese groups at a press conference.

Palestinian ambassador to Senegal, Safwat Ibraghith, appreciated the support from Senegalese civil society and the rest of Africa and reiterated their call that Israel should not have a place at the AU until it ends its occupation of Palestine.

“It is inconceivable that Africa, itself a victim of centuries of occupation, colonialist domination and oppression, could tolerate the same fate suffered by another people – the Palestinians, in the world’s last colony.”

Ibraghith further called on Senegal and other African states to review their diplomatic, economic and security ties with Israel. “Normalization with this Israeli occupation and apartheid entity undoubtedly contradicts Africa’s history and struggle for freedom and independence,” he said.

The Senegalese groups have joined more than twenty other groups from across the continent that has rejected Israel as an observer state at the AU.

The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in Botswana and the Labour Economists and Afrikan Democrats (LEAD) in Zimbabwe joined forces with the Socialist Forum of Ghana and Namibia’s Landless People’s Movement and the Centre for People’s Resistance to call on AU member states to reject Mahamat’s decision.

Other African groups such as the Pan-Afrikan Renaissance group in Uganda, Guinea’s All-African Revolutionary People’s Party, the Economic Fighters League of Ghana, and the Revolutionary Socialist League of Kenya are also part of the movement.

Coming together as the Pan-African Palestine Solidarity Network (PAPSN), the groups were joined by the Botswana Federation of Public Private and Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions, Socialist Students and Workers Network in Ghana, the Ghanaian branch of the International Socialist Organisation, as well as Palestine solidarity organisations from Malawi, Mauritius, Tanzania, Senegal, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa.

Environmental and development activists from Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) along with religious groups from Nigeria and South Africa have also called on the AU to revoke Israel’s observer status.

Twenty-three African countries have formally objected to Israel being granted observer status at the AU. As a result, the matter will be discussed at the AU executive meeting on October 13.

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