Middle East, Africa

Israel faces obstacles as it seeks new allies in Africa to sway support for Palestine

African Union Commission granting Israel observer status creating outrage, condemnations

Hassan Isilow   | 23.08.2021
Israel faces obstacles as it seeks new allies in Africa to sway support for Palestine

JOHANNESBURG

Israel is seeking new allies in Africa to boost its support during voting at the UN, where for years African countries have voted against the Middle Eastern state, a leading commentator has said.

“This is one of the reasons they have to come closer to African countries and buy them out,” Mustafa Mheta, senior research fellow/head of Africa desk at the Media Review Network in South Africa, told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.

Dr. Mustafa Mheta, a senior researcher at the Media Review Network a Johannesburg based think Tank

Mheta said for many years, African states have been vocal against Israel over its continued occupation of Palestinian territory and aggression, but economic and security interests offered to some of them seem to have compromised their position.

"Israel is also in Africa for business interests. It is in the business of arms manufacturing. They also manufacture technology and spyware,” he said.

Last month, an intelligence leak alleged that governments and agencies have been using Israeli company NSO Group’s Pegasus software to monitor the phones of thousands of politicians, dissidents, journalists, and business executives.

The spy leak claimed that Rwanda, a close ally of Israel, was one of those who used Pegasus spyware to snoop on some top African politicians, threatening diplomatic fallout.

“Israel’s spy technology is an attraction to some African dictators who feel they can use this technology to spy on their enemies, opposition and keep themselves in power for a long time,” said Mheta.

He also said that Israel sells its military hardware to African countries at affordable prices, which again attracts the attention of dictatorial leaders who want to maintain their grip on power for a long time.

In 2019, Israel opened its first embassy in Rwanda, vowing to support the tiny East African nation in a number of fields, including education, health, agriculture, and cyber security.

In June 2017, then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), meeting 10 African leaders.

He also traveled later that year to Kenya, where he met with 11 other African heads of state with whom he discussed the potential of deepening diplomatic relations.


Israel’s African Union observer status

On Thursday, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a block of 16 countries, condemned the African Union Commission’s decision to grant Israel observer status at the continent’s representative body of 54 nations. The majority of African Union member states object to Israel’s illegal occupation and unjust repression of Palestinians and annexation of their land.


SADC decision lauded​​​​​​​

Muhammed Desai of the human rights organization #Africa4Palestine told Anadolu Agency in a phone interview Friday that they welcome the SADC’s condemnation and objection by a growing number of African countries to the African Union Commission’s decision.

“We are working with our partners in government and civil society as well as allies in African countries to ensure that this unilateral, irregular and improper decision is immediately halted and reversed,” Desai said.

He said in the past, South Africa played a significant role in reversing the decision of the Africa-Israel summit which was meant to take place in Togo in 2017.

“We fully support the South African government, Algeria and others in the demand that Israel is barred from the AU until it respects international law,” he said, adding they want an investigation to be conducted into who may have been bribed by Israel at the African Union Commission to allow such a decision.

The Palestinian embassy in Pretoria also appreciated the SADC’s position in objecting to the African Union Commission’s decision to grant Israel observer status.

“The SADC’s position is in line with international law and the shared long history of solidarity and struggle against colonialism and oppression between Palestinian and African peoples,” it said in a statement mailed to Anadolu Agency.

23.08.2021

Israel faces obstacles as it seeks new allies in Africa to sway support for Palestine

African Union Commission granting Israel observer status creating outrage, condemnations

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