Ismail Haniyeh, in a letter addressed to Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the AU Commission, appreciated the historical positions of the African Union in support of Palestinian rights and their struggle to achieve freedom and independence.
Haniyeh pointed out that the 55-member organization is a reputable body that has long defended the rights of African nations to self-determination, freedom and independence, and stands with Palestinians and their just cause against the aggression and terrorism of the Tel Aviv regime.
The senior Hamas leader slammed Israel’s AU observer status as in flagrant violation of all values and principles on which the African bloc was founded.
“It represents a severe blow to the Palestinian nation and their legitimate national rights as they struggle to get rid of the occupying Israeli regime,” Haniyeh said.
He expressed hope that the African Union Commission would enhance communications with friendly states as well as international and regional organizations, at political, diplomatic and legal levels, in order to mobilize an international position that renews the demand for legitimate Palestinian rights, puts pressure on Israel to stop its settlement projects and confiscation of Palestinian lands, and exposes the crimes and aggression of the regime.
It also called upon the AU to criminalize Israeli violations and attacks, and help advancement of investigation procedures at the International Criminal Court try Israeli authorities as war criminals, than grant the Tel Aviv regime an observer status at the continental body.
Haniyeh said Israel would exploit the AU’s decision to perpetuate its existence, implement its colonial plans, continue its abhorrent occupation of Palestinian territories, and escalate its aggression against Palestinians and their lands.
He urged the chairman of the AU Commission to reverse the decision which is shocking to Palestinians and all African nations, emphasizing the measure does not reflect the historical positions of the Union towards the Palestinian cause.
Haniyeh finally called for practical steps to reject and criminalize normalization with Israel, describing attempts aimed at establishment of full diplomatic ties with the regime as a grave and unforgivable sin, and a treacherous stab in the back of all Arabs, Muslims, Africans and all freedom-loving peoples of the world.
Namibia joins condemnation
Namibia joined South Africa and several continental civil society groups on Thursday to reject the African Union Commission’s recent decision to grant Israel observer status at the regional body.
“Granting observer status to an occupying power is contrary to the principles and objectives of the Constitutive Act of the African Union,” Penda Naanda, executive director of Namibia’s Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, said in a statement.
Naanda said it was wrong to grant Israel observer status, particularly at this time, when the regime is increasing its acts of oppression in total violation of international law and disregard for the human rights of the Palestinian people.
He also said the AU Commission’s decision was against the usual firm and solid commitments made by several African heads of state and government who unequivocally support the Palestinian cause.
“Namibia therefore disassociates itself from granting observer status to Israel,” it said.
The southern African nation said Israel can only be granted observer status at the AU on the condition that it ceases to occupy Palestine and grants the Palestinian people the right to self-determination.
South Africa ‘appalled’
On Wednesday, the South African government said it is “appalled at the unjust and unwarranted decision” of the African Union Commission to grant Israel an observer status.
“The African Union Commission has taken this decision unilaterally without consultations with its members,” South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said in a statement.
It said the decision to grant Israel an observer status is even more shocking in a year in which the oppressed people of Palestine were hounded by destructive bombardments and the continued construction of illegal settlements on their land.
On July 22, Israel attained observer status at the AU after nearly 20 years of lobbying.
Israel previously held observer status in the predecessor Organization of African Unity until 2002, when the organization was disbanded and replaced by the AU.
Pro-Palestine language is typically featured in statements delivered at the AU’s annual summits.
Palestine already has observer status at the African Union, and Israeli diplomats have criticized recent AU statements on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.