Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended a summit with African leaders in Uganda. July 4, 2016.

The African Union, which convened in Addis Ababa on Sunday, rejected attempts by Algeria and South Africa to revoke Israel’s acceptance as an observer in the organization and decided to establish a committee to continue consultations on the subject. The committee’s conclusions will be presented at the African Union Summit in 2023.

Seven AU member states submitted in August a memorandum objecting to granting Israel an observer status. PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh appealed in his speech before the summit that it withdraw Israel’s observer status in the AU.

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“Israel’s acceptance as an observer in the African Union is a clear interest for us all – for Israel, for the African Union, and for the Union’s members. It will facilitate increased cooperation between Israel and African countries,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry stated in response.

“Israel attaches great importance to expanding the dialogue and cooperation with the African Union in line with changes in the Middle East, and views it as an important expression of our shared activities for the continent’s next generation,” it added.

After almost 20 years, Israel rejoined the African Union in July 2021, a significant diplomatic achievement.

The African Union, “for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa,” is the largest and most important organization in the African continent and its members are all the 55 countries of the African continent.

Israel has relations with 46 countries in Africa, in the framework of which many and varied collaborations are conducted in the fields of development, trade and aid.

This important development is mostly the product of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “Israel is returning to Africa” policy and his historic visit to East Africa in July 2016, during which he visited Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Weeks later, the Republic of Guinea, a Muslim-majority African nation, restored diplomatic ties with Israel after a 49-year break.

In the following August, Senegal and Guinea, two Muslim-majority West African nations, sent their first-ever ambassadors to Israel.

Netanyahu has made strengthening Israel’s relationship with African nations a major priority. He has stated on several occasions that “Israel is coming back to Africa, and Africa is coming back to Israel. It’s happening now because it’s so clear that this is good for Africa and it’s good for Israel.”

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.