AU says Israel’s observer status suspended

The African Union said Sunday that Israel’s observer status at the bloc was suspended and therefore it had not been invited to its weekend summit, after a row over the ejection of one of its top diplomats.

The incident highlighted a spat within the pan-African bloc over a 2021 decision by AU Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat to give Israel observer status.

The move was greeted with howls of protest by powerful member states including Pretoria.

Last year’s AU summit suspended a debate on whether to withdraw the accreditation and established a committee of heads of state to address the issue.

“That means that the status is suspended until such time as this committee can deliberate… and so we did not invite Israeli officials to our summit,” Faki told reporters on Sunday, adding that an investigation was being conducted.

Video circulating on social media showed guards escorting the Israeli foreign ministry’s deputy director general for Africa, Sharon Bar-li, out of the AU assembly hall in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

A spokesman for the ministry had said Bar-li was “an accredited observer with an entry tag”, accusing the AU of being taken hostage by a “small number of extremist states like Algeria and South Africa, which are driven by hatred and controlled by Iran”.