Israel has regained its observer status within the African Union. In recent years, Israeli diplomacy has put pressure on many African countries.
This is a first since 2002. In a statement published this Thursday, July 22, the Israeli Foreign Ministry indicates that “the Israeli Ambassador to Ethiopia, Aleleign Admasu presented his credentials as an observer to the African Union ”. A consecration for the diplomacy of the Hebrew state which, for several years, tried to find a place of choice within the institution of Addis Ababa. Netanyahu's goal turned into concrete achievement under the leadership of Naftali Bennett, new Israeli Prime Minister. Until 2002, Israel was an observer member of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). When the OAU was dissolved in July 2002, Israel failed to integrate into the brand new African Union.
In 2017, an Africa-Israel summit sparked an uproar
Since then, the Hebrew state has multiplied the appeals of the foot. And it was around 2016-2017 that Israel came closest to returning to African bodies. In order to regain its observer post within the AU, Israel has worked hard on its diplomacy with Africa in recent years. Until Togo obtained the organization of an Africa-Israel summit in 2017. But this event, which was to take place in October 2017, had finally had to be officially postponed - unofficially canceled - under pressure from several African countries unwilling to discuss with the Jewish state. Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco - which has since changed its mind - Tunisia and South Africa, but especially Nigeria, had scrambled to cancel this summit. Faure Gnassingbé did not hesitate to retract after having promised access to the African El Dorado to the Israeli Prime Minister. A strategic error that the Togolese president still pays today, after having delegated Togolese diplomacy to Robert Dussey, Minister of Foreign Affairs at the origin of the Togo-Israel rapprochement and the attempt to organize a summit in Lome.
But a year earlier, Israel had nonetheless gained the support of several other African countries. Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Zambia, Malawi and Ethiopia had indeed declared their love for Netanyahu. The latter, present in Uganda for a regional mini-summit on security and the fight against terrorism, had obtained the approval of Ethiopia, which promised him observer status within the AU. “Israel is working very hard in several African countries. There is no reason to deny him ”this status, indicated the then Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn. The head of government even said he wanted "the engagement of Israel in our African system". The other countries then promised to "restore Israel as an observer state to the African Union".
The Abrahamic Accords, the trigger?
It still took five years for this to become concrete. During the last few years, Israeli diplomacy has constantly reminded Kenya, Rwanda and others of their promise of 2016. But if the Jewish state is today an observer within the African Union, he owes it in large part to Aliza Bin-Noun, Deputy Director General of African Affairs at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The diplomat managed to obtain quite unexpected support recently: besides the Americans, Israel has indeed made agreements with Sudan and Morocco, which have become Israel's unconditional allies within the AU. When it was announced that Israel had obtained this status, Alon Ushpiz, Director General at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stressed that it was "recognition for the leadership of Ambassador" Aliza Bin- Noun.
For Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, "this diplomatic achievement is the result of constant work by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, its African division and Israeli embassies on the continent". He believes that Israel's absence from the AU was an "anomaly" and asserts that this announcement "will help to strengthen our activities on the African continent and with the member states of the organization". Israel's Foreign Ministry recalls that the Hebrew state “maintains relations with 46 African countries”. In recent years, Israel "has renewed its diplomatic relations with Chad and Guinea, and Sudan, following its adherence to the Abrahamic Accords." Israeli diplomacy believes that this new observer status within the AU will make it possible to "cooperate, among other things, in the fight against Covid-19 and in the prevention of the spread of terrorism on the continent".