During the recent annual summit of the African Union, which was held in Ethiopia, a disagreement regarding Israel’s accreditation to the organization led to the removal of a top Israeli diplomat. During the opening ceremony of the summit in Addis Ababa on Saturday, a video was posted to social media showing security workers walking Ambassador Sharon Bar-Li out of the auditorium.
The spokesperson for the chairman of the African Union, Ebba Kalondo, stated that the diplomat was expelled because it was discovered that she was not the officially accredited Israeli envoy to Ethiopia, which was the official that had been anticipated. An official of the African Union subsequently revealed to the AFP news agency that the diplomat who was “asked to leave” had not been invited to the meeting. The official explained that a non-transferable invitation had only been extended to Aleli Admasu, Israel’s ambassador to the African Union. The official continued by saying, “It is unfortunate that the person in question would take advantage of such a courtesy.”
Israel did not delay a moment in expressing its disapproval of the action. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the following statement in response to the incident: “Israel looks harshly upon the incident in which the deputy director for Africa, Ambassador Sharon Bar-Li, was removed from the African Union hall despite her status as an accredited observer with entrance badges.”
Israel laid the blame for the incident on South Africa and Algeria, two important nations in the 55-nation bloc, claiming that they were holding the AU hostage and that they were motivated by “hate.” Vincent Magwenya, a spokesman for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was at the summit, asked Israel to “prove their claim” after Israel said that Iran, which is its biggest enemy, planned the move with the help of Algeria and South Africa.
According to reports from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Charge d’Affaires at the South African Embassy will be called in for a reprimand. South Africa disagreed with this claim by saying that the African Union (AU) has not yet decided on Israel’s request to become an observer in the AU.
Clayson Monyela, head of public diplomacy in South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation, told Reuters news agency that the country cannot sit and observe before the African Union makes a decision on whether or not to grant Israel observer status. “You cannot have the country sitting and observing,” Monyela said. Therefore, South Africa or Algeria is not the problem at hand; rather, it is a matter of principle.
The disagreement about Israel’s role as an observer in the organization started in July 2021, when Moussa Faki Mahamat, who was chair of the African Union Commission at the time, accepted the country’s accreditation without consulting anyone else.
The action caused an uproar among a number of member states, which led those states to demand that the status be removed. South Africa and Algeria, two influential members of the African Union, were the driving forces behind the protest. They said that the decision went against what the AU had said before, which was that it was okay to take over Palestinian land. The political group that is currently in power in South Africa has a long tradition of being an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause. In a statement released on Sunday, the African National Congress (ANC), which has called Israel a “racist state,” said that Bar-Remi should be taken out of office.
The African National Congress (ANC) said that she was fired to stop “an attempt to stop the current AU Summit from looking at a report that is meant to help guide discussions on whether Israel should be given observer status.” On Sunday, Palestinian organizations expressed their delight at Bar-Dismissal. The Fatah movement, which is headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and issued a statement, said in the statement that the expulsion was consistent with the African Union’s support for their people and their legitimate rights.
In addition, it demanded that all African nations “take comparable steps to besiege Israel in order to compel it to stop its crimes against the Palestinian people, their territories, and their holy sites.” In a statement, Hamas spokesperson Jihad Taha said that these efforts are in line with the values and principles of the African Union.
Palestine has already been granted observer status at the AU, and statements delivered at the annual summits of the AU usually include language that is supportive of the Palestinian cause. In February of the previous year, the African Union (AU) came to the conclusion that a vote on whether or not to suspend Israel’s observer status would have resulted in a level of discord within the 55-member organization that had never been seen before.
Macky Salk, who had just been elected as the new chairman of the African Union at the time, stated that the decision would have been delayed until 2023 and added that a committee had been established with the intention of consulting with member states and constructing a consensus on the issue. Israel finally achieved observer status after making diplomatic attempts for a period of twenty years. It had previously served in that capacity at the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Despite this, it was unsuccessful for a considerable amount of time in its attempts to reclaim it after the OAU was dissolved in 2002 and the AU took its position.