THE Chairperson of the African Union (AU), Moussa Faki Mahamat, has taken the continent’s leaders to task for creating confusion over the granting of Observer Status of the pan-African organisation to Israel in July last year.
Th Jewish state was an Observer during the existence of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
But when the OAU transformed itself to the AU in 2002, Israel’s status was rescinded.
However, Faki took a decision to reinstate it, having listened to a number of AU states, he said then.
Nevertheless, at the just-ended summit of the AU in Addis Ababa, Faki laid into African leaders who seemed to be backtracking over the issue, claiming that the Chairperson violated the Constitutive Act of the AU.
‘I am constantly keen to promote the interests of the Union and to reinforce the positions taken by member states in international fora,’ he told the gathering.
‘It is out of this concern and in this sole concern, that at the request of several member states and after an in-depth consideration, I decided on 22 July 2021 to grant the State of Israel the Observer Status.’
Faki pointed out that under the AU’s Sirte Criteria of 2005, the powers of the Chairperson to grant Observer Status to a non-African state were established.
‘By granting the Observer Status to the State of Israel, I, therefore, acted in full compliance with my prerogatives and powers while respecting the procedure because at the first known reservation I expressed my will to revert to the next session of the Executive Council, which I did exactly,’ Faki said.
He noted that his decision was informed by the fact that 44 AU members had recognised and established diplomatic relations with Israel.
Faki also pointed out that 17 of these countries had established embassies in Tel Aviv while
12 had opened General Consulates there.
He said at the summit: ‘How in the face of this overwhelming number, could I imagine that I was violating the Constitutive Act and the relevant decisions of the organisation by acting in favour of the national interests and choices of 44 member states?
‘By which logic or pretention could I consider that all these states had themselves violated our texts by establishing such strong and rich relations, which, I underscore, all go beyond the simple Observer Status which substantively does not give any prerogative in contrast to the establishment of diplomatic relations opening up a vast field of multifaceted cooperation granting substantial advantages to the State of Israel in the said countries?’
Faki went on: ‘The number of member states which expressly asked for the granting of Observer Status to the State of Israel appeared to me larger than that of the member states that did not recognise Israel.
‘Which number should I comply with?
‘The majority or the minority?
‘I leave it to your appreciation,’ he added.
Pointing out that Palestine also had Observer Status at the AU, Faki said he had long believed that ‘the Israel-Arab conflict will only be resolved by the recognition of two states, Palestine and Israel, each one living in a sovereign, viable state in freedom, peace, total independence and good neighbourliness’.
Condemning the double standards of those criticising him, Faki said: ‘I have known for a long time how in Africa, in the Arab and the Muslim world, the just cause of the Palestinian people has been used, but this is another debate on which I do not want to dwell any longer.
‘…why should this issue divide us?
‘Since the existence of this organisation, we have always sought consensus.
‘However, when this consensus, for one reason or another, is not reached, a decision must be taken,’ he added.
Faki went on: ‘I have opened my heart to you on the decision under discussion.
‘I have shared with you my intimate convictions and my questioning.
‘Now the decision is yours. It is no longer mine.
‘If you want to reach a consensus and/or a compromise, I will apply it.
‘If you decide to simply cancel it, I will implement your decision.
‘You want to maintain it, I will also apply it.
‘I leave it to your wisdom, whatever be the option,’ he concluded.
News agency reports said that the AU would look at the issue and report back to the organisation in a year’s time..