A pan African group, the Africa Diaspora Development has held a peaceful rally in Abuja in support of granting observer status to Israel in the African Union.
Speaking on the reasons for the rally, Ambassador Olubunmi Fagbuyiro, the ECOWAS Representative of Africa Diaspora for Development said the group is concerned that while the AU had on 22 July, 2021 began the process of granting official observer status to the State of Israel, 17 African countries are still opposed to the move.
Fagbuyiro who led the rally said opposition to granting of observer status to Israel in the AU was not necessary given the fact that the country has had fruitful relation with Africa even before the formal establishment of the continental organization.
Fagbuyiro noted that Ghana was the first African country to formalise diplomatic ties when Israel established while the highly influential leader of the African independence movement, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, was pro-Israel
He noted that with all African countries now independent, they can benefit from the immense technical expertise of Israel in different fields if the country is granted observer status in the AU.
“AU should embrace Israel as the country has already demonstrated its willingness for fruitful partnership with Africa with establishment of many ongoing joint venture programmes in the area of agricultural cooperatives, youth training centres, and medical infrastructure in countries such as Ghana, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast among others,” Ambassador Fagbuyiro said.
He further noted that Israel can be of help to AU countries in terms of utilisation of agriculture for sustainable development, noting that MASHAV (Israel’s Agency for International Development) and ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) are already working together to promote bilateral agricultural cooperation in accordance with the UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development in the sub-region.
He also added that Israel been pivotal in provision of green energy, health infrastructure and infrastructure for sustainable water supply in many countries in the continent.
In addition, the Ambassador noted that Israel’s contribution to fight against Ebola in Africa, the African Union presented a plaque to the Israeli Ambassador to Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi, Mrs Belaynesh Zevadia, in February 2016.
He added that while the group acknowledged the plights of the Palestinian people, it should not be an hindrance to the relationship between Isreal and Africa
“We support granting of observer member status to Israel in AU. It is even our view that AU can play an important role in bringing about peace between Israel and Palestine, drawing on lessons from the African nationalist movements and the experiences decolonisation and reconciliation following various conflicts can be used to inspire negotiation and peace between the Israelis and Palestinians,” said Fagbuyiro.
He added that group wants the issue of granting of Observer Status to Israel in the AU to be top of agenda of the 13 October meeting of the continental body.
He added that his group would appreciate to have a more formal meeting with the AU on the issue while it will continue its campaign and advocacy on the issue.
“We are deeply worried about the absence of consensus regarding the accreditation of the State of Israel as an African Union Observer, since the day Israeli Ambassador to Ethiopia, Burundi and Chad, Aleli Admasu, presented his credentials to Moussa Faki Mahamat (Chairman of the African Union Commission).
“This decision was based on the recognition of Israel and the restoration of diplomatic relations with more than two-thirds of African Union member states and the express demand of many members of the states.
“Given that the systems of the African Union do not give any possibility for the 87 observer states outside Africa to influence the positions of the continental organisation whose determination stems from the exclusive prerogative member of the states, we are urging you to use your prerogative as the Chairperson to request the following action:
“We therefore suggest that the issue of the accreditation of the State of Israel should be part of the agenda at the next meeting of the state members, in October 2021, for normalisation on building a consensus on this matter.
“We also call all the states members to respect the African Union guiding principle of unity and their obligation toward the African Union Commission in accordance with article 4.2 of the Statutes of the Commission.
“We also applaud Executive Committee of the African Diaspora for Development and the Nigerian team for giving their time, money and other resources to support this noble course. We hope to have a positive news from the African Union Executive Council meeting which is slated for 13th of October 2021in favour of the state of Israel,” Fagbuyiro added.