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Insistence on Israeli membership in African Union will eventually tear apart bloc, says Algerian FM

This photo taken on January 28, 2018 shows the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during the opening of the Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government for the 30th annual African Union summit. (Photo by AFP)

Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra has chastized the chairman of the African Union (AU) Commission for defending his decision last month to grant Israel observer status at the African bloc, saying insistence on the measure will eventually result in the breakup of the regional organization.

“Moussa Faki Mahamat sought to defend himself [in the face of growing condemnations over the step] and accordingly made the latest remarks. He is unaware of the consequences that the decision will cause,” Lamamra said in an interview with Algeria’s al-Fadjr daily newspaper on Saturday.

He said Faki’s comments will not dissuade South Africa, Tunisia, Eritrea, Senegal, Tanzania, Niger, Comoros, Gabon, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Mali and Seychelles from expelling Israel from the 55-member African Union.

On Friday, Faki defended the move to admit Israel as an AU observer member, saying he made the decision on the basis of the recognition of the regime and the restoration of diplomatic relations with several AU member states.

According to a report by London-based online newspaper Rai al-Youm, Algeria has officially begun forming a group of African countries opposed to Tel Aviv’s membership in the African Union in order to preserve the principles of the union and to support Palestine.

Lamamra has stressed that his country would not stand idly by the African Union’s move which was adopted without any consultation with its member states.

On July 22, Israel attained observer status at the AU after nearly 20 years of lobbying.

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.

Namibia joined South Africa and several continental civil society groups on July 29 to reject the African Union Commission’s decision to grant Israel observer status at the regional body.

“Granting observer status to an occupying power is contrary to the principles and objectives of the Constitutive Act of the African Union,” Penda Naanda, executive director of Namibia’s Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, said in a statement.

Naanda said it was wrong to grant Israel observer status, particularly at a time when the regime is increasing its acts of oppression in total violation of international law and disregard for the human rights of the Palestinian people.

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