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Last month, the African Union granted observer status to Israel, after nearly 20 years of Israeli diplomatic efforts to that effect. Israel had previously held observer status in the Organization of African Unity, or OAU, the AU’s predecessor. But it lapsed after the OAU was disbanded in 2002 and replaced by the AU, and Israel’s efforts to get it back have been stymied since then.
Almost immediately, the decision was met with considerable pushback from a coalition of AU member states, primarily from the continent’s north and south. The government of South Africa released an official statement condemning the decision in uncharacteristically blunt language, describing it as “unjust and unwarranted.” Namibia echoed those sentiments, calling the announcement “contrary to the principles and objectives of the Constitutive Act of the African Union.” And last Sunday, Botswana joined the chorus, distancing itself from the decision and reaffirming its solidarity with the Palestinian Authority.