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At the summit of the African Union, the controversy over the status of Israel revived


This controversial decision taken in July by the President of the Commission forAfrican Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat, is to be discussed on Sunday afternoon, at the end of this summit with a busy agenda, including the coups that have shaken the continent and the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the controversy did not wait for Sunday.

In a speech to dozens of African leaders gathered at the headquarters of theAfrican Union, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh has called for the withdrawal of the accreditation granted to the Jewish state.

Israel should never be rewarded for its violations and for the apartheid regime it imposes on the Palestinian people, he said, using a phrase from an Amnesty International report published this week.

The situation of the Palestinian people has only become more precarious, insisted the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, accredited to theAfrican Union since 2013.

For several months, this decision to accredit Israel has been strongly criticized by several Member States, including South Africa and Algeria, who believe that it goes against the statements of the organization supporting the Palestinian Territories.

If the decision were to come to a vote on Sunday, many analysts believe it could mark a split unprecedented in the history of theAfrican Union, which celebrates its 20th anniversary.

In his speech opening the summit, Moussa Faki Mahamat defended his choice and called for a calm debate.

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He assured that the commitment of theAfrican Union in the quest for independence of the Palestinians was unchanging and can only continue to grow stronger. But the accreditation of Israel can constitute, according to him, an instrument in the service of peace.

Deadly conflict in Tigray

The summit is being held in Addis Ababa, as northern Ethiopia has been embroiled in a 15-month conflict between pro-government forces and rebels of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has left thousands dead and , according to’United Nations, brought hundreds of thousands of people to the brink of starvation.

This war has considerably damaged the relations of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, with Western powers, who saw him as a reformer, but today condemn the alleged mass killings and rapes committed by pro-government forces.

L’African Union is under pressure to bring the belligerents to a ceasefire. But the fact that its headquarters are in Ethiopia puts it in a particularly delicate position.

Mr. Faki notably waited until last August – nine months after the start of the fighting – to appoint former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo as special envoy in charge of obtaining a ceasefire.

In a speech on Saturday, Abiy Ahmed thanked African leaders for their support in this challenge […] of an internal nature which fell under the maintenance of order.

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The spokesperson for Tigray People’s Liberation Front, Getachew Reda, accused Mr. Abiy of asking African leaders to close eyes […] or even worse, to extol him for killing his people at will. Africa must say no to this carnage!, he wrote on Twitter.

Repeating his criticism of international media coverage of Ethiopia and the continent, Abiy Ahmed also called for the creation of a continental news outlet of the African Union.

The summit will also address the fatal wave, in the words of Mr. Faki, of coups on the continent, the latest in Burkina Faso less than two weeks ago.

Four Member States (Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, Sudan) have been suspended fromAfrican Union since June due to unconstitutional changes of government.

But’African Union is also criticized for its lack of consistency, especially after not suspending Chad, where a military council took power after the death of President Idriss Deby Itno in April.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa also gave an update via videoconference on Africa’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, two years after the first case of COVID-19 was detected on the continent, in Egypt.

As of January 26, only 11% of the more than one billion Africans had been fully immunized, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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