The African Union has suspended a debate on whether to withdraw Israel’s accreditation, avoiding a vote that risked creating an unprecedented rift in the 55-member bloc, diplomats told AFP Sunday.
“The Israel question has been suspended for now and instead there will be a committee set up to study the issue,” one of the diplomats told AFP on the closing day of the AU’s annual summit in Addis Ababa.
The relationship with Israel is a rare point of contention for a body that values consensus, with powerful member states, notably South Africa, loudly protesting a decision by Moussa Faki Mahamat, chair of the African Union Commission, to accept Israel’s accreditation to the bloc.
The six-member committee will include South Africa and Algeria, who opposed Faki’s move to accredit Israel last July, as well as Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who supported it, according to the diplomats. Cameroon also asked to be on the committee, while South Africa requested the inclusion of Nigeria as well, the diplomats said.
There was no immediate information available on the timeline for the committee’s work or when the AU might take up the matter again.
As the summit opened Saturday, Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh urged African leaders to withdraw Israel’s AU accreditation, denouncing its “apartheid regime”.
Member nations such as South Africa said they had not been properly consulted about the decision, which they said contradicted numerous AU statements, including from Faki himself, supporting the Palestinian Territories.
The accreditation handed Israeli diplomats a victory they had been chasing for nearly two decades. Seventy-two countries, regional blocs and organizations are already accredited, including North Korea, the European Union and UNAIDS, according to the AU’s website.