South Africa ‘appalled’ by granting of Africa Union observer status to Israel

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — South Africa vehemently objects to last week’s “unilateral” decision by the African Union Commission to grant Israel an official observer status at the continental organization.

In a strongly worded statement, the continental powerhouse, which last year held the annually rotating AU presidency, says it “is appalled at the unjust and unwarranted decision of the AU Commission to grant Israel observer status in the African Union.”

The AU handed Israel the observer status on Thursday, a move the two parties expected would enable Israel to further help the AU battle the coronavirus pandemic and terrorism on the continent.

“The decision to grant Israel observer status is even more shocking in a year in which the oppressed people of Palestine were hounded by destructive bombardments and continued illegal settlements of the land,” South Africa’s foreign affairs ministry says, blasting the move as “inexplicable” and “incomprehensible.”

South Africa backs the Palestinian cause with formal diplomatic relations established in 1995, a year after the end of apartheid, and it downgraded its embassy in Tel Aviv in 2019.

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