Hamas has strongly condemned the decision to grant the Israeli regime observer status at the African Union (AU), describing the move as “shocking and reprehensible.”
“The decision would legitimize the presence of the occupying Israeli regime on our lands, and would give it more chances to press ahead with its plans to deny Palestinians their rights, and to continue its brutal crimes against them,” the movement said in a statement on Saturday.
“The step is, unfortunately, taken by the African states that have struggled under the yoke of a colonial and racist past, and have suffered a lot to shed the practices,” the added
Hamas said African countries have long been backing Palestine's just struggle for freedom and independence, adding the Palestinians look forward to seeing their support continue.
“Accordingly, we demand the immediate expulsion of the occupying regime from the African Union, and the imposition of deterrent measures against it," it said.
"The regime must embrace truth and justice, and respond to our aspirations for the establishment of an independent State of Palestine with al-Quds as its capital, and Palestinian refugees' right to return to the places they and their families were forcibly evicted.”
On Thursday, Israel attained observer status at the AU after nearly 20 years of lobbying.
Making the move official, Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia, Burundi and Chad Aleli Admasu presented his credentials to Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairman of the African Union Commission, at the bloc’s headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
Israel previously held observer status in the predecessor Organization of African Unity until 2002, when the organization was disbanded and replaced by the AU.
Pro-Palestine language is typically featured in statements delivered at the AU’s annual summits.
Palestine already has observer status at the African Union, and Israeli diplomats have criticized recent AU statements on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.