Citizen Reporter
3 minute read
28 Jul 2021
1:22 pm

SA outraged by AU decision to ‘reward’ Israel with observer status

Citizen Reporter

Dirco says the decision was more shocking following the Israel-Palestine conflict.

More than a 100 ANC members protested in solidarity with people of Palestine at the Israeli Embassy on 25 May 2021 in Pretoria. Picture: Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius

The South African government has expressed its shock over the African Union (AU) Commission’s decision to grant Israel observer status within the continental union.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) said government was “appalled” at the “unjust and unwarranted” decision of the AU Commission.

“The African Union Commission has taken this decision unilaterally without consultations with its members,” Dirco said.

READ MORE: Israel-Palestine conflict: We won’t pick sides in our reporting

The department pointed out that the decision was more shocking following the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

“The decision to grant Israel observer status is even more shocking in a year in which the oppressed people of Palestine were hounded by destructive bombardments and continued illegal settlements of the land.

“The African Union strenuously objected to the deaths of Palestinians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. The decision by the AU Commission in this context is inexplicable.”

The department said it believed the unjust actions committed by Israel “offend the letter and spirit of the Charter of the AU”.

“The AU embodies the aspirations of all Africans and reflects their confidence that it can lead the continent through the practical expression of the goals of the Charter, especially on issues relating to self-determination and decolonisation.

“Israel continues to illegally occupy Palestine in complete defiance of its international obligations and relevant UN resolutions. It is therefore incomprehensible that the AU Commission chooses to reward Israel at a time when its oppression of Palestinians has been demonstrably more brutal.”

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It further said the government would request the chairperson of the AU Commission to provide a briefing to all member states on the decision, “which we hope will be discussed by the executive council and the assembly of heads of states and government”.

“South Africa firmly believes that as long as Israel is not willing to negotiate a peace plan without preconditions, it should not have observer status in the AU. The AU cannot be a party in any way to plans and actions that would see the ideal of Palestinian statehood reduced into balkanised entities devoid of true sovereignty, without territorial contiguity and with no economic viability.”

What is observer status?

Israel is reported to have obtained observer status at the AU last Thursday, since the Jewish state has been demanding it for years.

According to United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ECWA), observer status is a privilege granted by some organisations to non-members to give them an ability to participate in the organisation’s activities.

Observer status is often granted by intergovernmental organisations (IGO) to non-member states and international non-governmental organisations (INGO) that have an interest in the IGO’s activities.

Observers generally have a limited ability to participate in the IGO, lacking the ability to vote or propose resolutions.


An 11-day conflict with Israel saw hundreds killed, most of whom were Palestinians, many of them children.

Despite a ceasefire being declared at the end of May, thousands in Gaza are now homeless. 

Protests took place across South Africa and the world.