Chairperson Faki Mahamat has sidestepped the criteria and norms of procedure by unilaterally accepting Israel’s request for accreditation – in particular the known views and concerns of member states. South Africa, Nigeria, Namibia, Algeria, and Tunisia are just some of the AU member states that have publicly stated their opposition to Israel being granted observer status.

Representatives of these countries have consistently argued that accreditation of Israel as an observer state tramples on the long-standing, principled position of solidarity with the Palestinian people expressed by the African Union, its predecessor the Organization of African Unity (OAU), African states and African people.

Israel remains an occupying power and colonial state, while the AU is avowedly anti-colonial. It would be a violation and betrayal of Africa’s history of anti-colonial struggle to welcome the Israeli apartheid and colonial regime as an ‘observer’ at the African Union.

One of the key stated aims of the AU is to “promote peace, security, and stability on the continent.” Israel – with its systematic violations of international law – is a constant and direct threat to peace and security in the Middle East and North Africa, including AU member states, and globally.

The AU has also committed to “promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other relevant human rights instruments.” Israel is an exemplary case of continuous and systematic violations of human and people’s rights as well as many international human rights instruments, including the International Court of Justice and countless UN resolutions.

A seven-member Heads of State committee has been tasked with investigating Israel’s observer status at the AU. This committee provides some hope that the values of the AU will be upheld and that the will of the African people – who stand firmly against Israeli apartheid and with the Palestinian people – will be implemented.

The Palestinian people hope that the committee will carefully consider the principles and values of the AU Constitutive Act and the African Charter, and that its decisions will be guided by the various resolutions taken on Israel since the AU’s formation.

The African Union must send Israel a clear message that it cannot occupy a people for 55 years, perpetuate apartheid practices, and then be rewarded with the privilege of joining the African family.