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Rights groups call AU leaders to drop Israel’s observer status

Washington (QNN)- Human rights groups have called in a legal submission sent to the African Union’s executive council to suspend Israel’s observer status, pointing out Israel’s crimes of apartheid and persecution against Palestinians.

The UK-based International Centre of Justice for Palestinians, Democracy for Arab World Now (Dawn) in the US and The Legal Resource Center in South Africa said that Israel’s actions, particularly its crime of apartheid and persecution against Palestinians, “stand in fundamental opposition to the express terms of the AU’s founding document, the Constitutive Act of the African Union, which stresses political independence, human dignity, and economic emancipation, as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which calls for genuine independence and the elimination of apartheid, colonialism, and all forms of discrimination.”

At least 23 African Union member states now oppose the African Union’s grant of observer status to ‘Israel’.

“To grant Israel observer status at the AU on the heels of Israel’s recent atrocities in Gaza, while it displaces Palestinians, destroys their homes, and subjects them to a brutal system of apartheid is unconscionable,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of DAWN.

“The African Union should be in the vanguard of the struggle against the brutal domination of one group over another but instead has lent legitimacy to Israel’s apartheid government,” she added.

The legal submission sent to the African Union’s executive council persuasively argues why the AU should not have granted ‘Israel’ observer status, as well as why the AU should withdraw this status.

As documented in the submission, ‘Israel’ in no way meets the AU requirements for obtaining observer status. The Executive Council is set to take up this matter at its next session on October 13 and 14 in N’djamena, Chad.

“The well-documented crimes and violations of such an oppressive nature that the human dignity and independence of the Palestinian people is decisively suppressed plainly demonstrates that Israel does not embody the values and ideals that the African Union supports and aspires, and that the AU Commission’s decision—made without considering the serious concerns of nearly half its membership—was in error,” said Crispin Blunt MP, Director of ICJP.

“No State which has consistently demonstrated such a blatant disregard for the principles of the African Union, and for the rule of law, should be granted the privileges which come with Observer Status, including the ability to influence the very goals and values of the African Union,” added Haydee Dijkstal, Chief Counsel instructed by the ICJP.

The African Union is a representative body of 54 African nations whose majority object to Israel’s illegal occupation, unjust oppression of Palestinians and annexation of their land.

The occupation state had submitted a letter of credence to rejoin the AU as an observer — which was accepted — 19 years after the occupation state lost its status.

On July 22, the Commission of the African Union granted ‘Israel’ observer status at the African Union, which ‘Israel’ had been seeking unsuccessfully for the past two decades.

Celebrated by ‘Israel’, this grant of observer status was a defeat for the millions of African people who consistently support the Palestinians’ struggle for self-determination and freedom from Israeli occupation, and who like Palestinians, have endured the scourge of racism.

“The plight of the people of Palestine is undeniably similar to the plight of many Black South Africans under apartheid rule and we cannot condone or be indifferent to any State that colonizes and illegally occupies another and oppresses and subjugates its people,” said Sherylle Dass, Regional Director of Legal Resources Centre.

“It is therefore unconscionable that the AU has granted Apartheid Israel observer status; it is not only an insult to the people of Palestine but to black South Africans particularly those of us who have worked tirelessly to free ourselves from colonial oppression and apartheid,” added Dass.

The submission also said that in naming ‘Israel’ an observer, the AU Commission infringed upon one of the core principles of the AU “to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights,” as set forth in its founding document, the Constitutive Act of the African Union.

It also said that in embracing ‘Israel’, the Commission provided cover to a government that routinely defies its human rights obligations and commits war crimes and the crime against humanity of apartheid and persecution.

“Instead of extending a warm welcome to Israel, the African Union should, given its history, recognize its special responsibility to oppose apartheid wherever it exists,” said Raed Jarrar, DAWN’s Advocacy Director.

The human rights groups called the AU to “clarify its position by issuing a public statement opposing the crime of apartheid as committed by the Israeli government.”

They also called for the “reconstitution of the UN Special Committee against Apartheid and reopening of the UN Centre against Apartheid.”

Numerous civil society organizations in Palestine, the Middle East, and Africa have urged the United Nations to take this action and South Africa and Namibia have publicly supported reconstituting the Special Committee against Apartheid while speaking at the United Nations.

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