Israeli delegation kicked out of African Union headquarters, South Africa and Algeria stand guard

Despite the determined resistance from some African nations, especially South Africa and Algeria, against Israel due to its actions towards Palestinians, Tel Aviv is aiming to rejoin the African Union (AU) as an observer member. This status was originally granted to Israel in July 2021 by Moussa Faki, the President of the African Commission from Chad, without the required approval from the relevant authorities. Both Algiers and Pretoria have made it clear that Israel’s access to the AU is not welcome. On February 14, 2024, a delegation led by Benjamin Netanyahu was once again turned away.

According to a diplomatic source who talked to Al Jazeera, the AU stopped an Israeli delegation from visiting its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The delegation included Yaakov Blitshstein, the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Amit Bayas, the Director of the Africa Management Department.

The delegation’s purpose was to share Israel’s perspective on the ongoing conflict in Gaza and to seek a softening of the AU’s stance towards Israel. Despite their intents, the Israeli diplomats, who arrived in Addis Ababa to attend the opening session of the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting as observers, were met with firm opposition from AU officials.

The situation differs sharply from that of 2021, as the memory of Israel’s military actions in Gaza, which have been ongoing for over four months, remains fresh. These actions have greatly diminished Israel’s chances of engaging with African leaders. In February 2023, before these recent events, the world saw the Israeli delegation being expelled from an AU summit meeting. Given the current circumstances in Gaza, the situation seems even more challenging for Israel.

The 2023 summit did not resolve Israel’s observer status; the matter was delegated to a committee led by seven African presidents, including Algeria’s Abdelmadjid Tebboune. Considering the substantial allegations against Israel and the extensive civilian deaths in Palestine, Netanyahu’s attempts to engage with the AU seem increasingly unlikely to succeed.


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