SADC leaders condemn AU decision to grant Israel observer status

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New SADC Chairperson, Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera (centre), with SA President Cyril Ramaphosa (left), at the 41st SADC Heads of States and Government Summit, Lilongwe, Malawi./AFP
New SADC Chairperson, Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera (centre), with SA President Cyril Ramaphosa (left), at the 41st SADC Heads of States and Government Summit, Lilongwe, Malawi./AFP

Heads of state of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) met in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe for the 41st Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government where they condemned the African Union’s decision to grant the State of Israel Observer Status.

The observer status allows non-members like Israel to participate in certain activities of the AU. South Africa had played a “central role” in lobbying SADC’s 16 member states to issue a collective statement, said Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

“It is significant when you have a regional body of the African Union speaking in one voice on such a matter. It carries weight,” said Monyela.

AU member states have previously rejected Israel’s applications, but the latest decision had bypassed the collective debate, explained Monyela. This is why SADC was critical of what it called a unilateral decision by the African Union Commissioner.

Earlier this month however, AU Commissioner Moussa Faki Mahamat defended the decision saying it reflected the position of the majority of member states.

Faki Mahamat added that accepting Israel’s formal accreditation at the AU did not dilute the “unflinching commitment of the Pan-African Organisation to the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to establish an independent National State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, within the framework of a global, fair and definitive peace between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine”.

He said the objection by certain members would be discussed at the session of the executive council to be held in October.

In July, Israel announced the formal establishment of its observer status with the African Union.

It was the first time since 2002 that an Israeli diplomat had presented their credential to the regional body’s commission in Addis Ababa.

The agenda of the summit was to discuss bolstering economic cooperation in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as issues of regional insecurity.

The Southern African Development Community (SADCC) is an inter-governmental organization headquartered in Gaborone, Botswana. Its goal is to further regional socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among 16 countries in Southern Africa.

 

 

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