Namibia rejects Israel’s AU observer status

Member states not consulted

29 July 2021 | International


The Namibian government has rejected the African Union Commission’s decision to grant Israel observer status in the African Union (AU).

After nearly 20 years of diplomatic efforts, Israel attained observer status at the AU when Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia Aleli Admasu last week presented his credentials to Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission.

Namibia’s position was made public by international relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah yesterday during a telephonic interview with Namibian Sun, in which she also said that member states were not consulted.

Namibia has over the years consistently criticised Israel’s conduct towards Palestine, accusing it of “illegally” occupying the latter in defiance to international protocols.

“We are rejecting that approval because it does not meet the basic principles of the AU, which includes the right to self-determination,” she said.

Nandi-Ndaitwah said although the rules of the commission empower the chairperson to grant observer status, “the decision does not abide by the basic principles of the union”.

She said the Namibian government discussed the acceptance of Israel into the AU fold as an observer and reached consensus not to support it.


Namibia’s southern neighbour, South Africa, also rejected the move yesterday, saying it is appalled at the unjust and unwarranted decision of the AU Commission to grant Israel observer status.

In a statement issued by its department of international relations and cooperation, SA said the commission took the decision unilaterally without consultations with its members.

“The decision to grant Israel observer status is even more shocking in a year during which the oppressed people of Palestine were hounded by destructive bombardments and continued illegal settlements of the land,” that government said.

It further stated: “The AU strenuously objected to the deaths of Palestinians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. The decision by the commission in this context is inexplicable.”

SA said it will ask the chairperson of the commission to provide a briefing to all member states on the decision “which we hope will be discussed by the executive council and the assembly of heads of states and government.”

Unwilling to negotiate

“South Africa strongly believes that as long as Israel is not willing to negotiate a peace plan without preconditions, it should not have observer status in the AU.

“The AU cannot be a party in any way to plans and actions that would see the ideal of Palestinian statehood reduced into balkanised entities devoid of true sovereignty, without territorial contiguity and with no economic viability,” the statement further read.

Algieria also recently condemned the decision to grant Israel observer status to the pan-African organisation, saying it was “taken without the benefit of broad prior consultations with all member states” and that the decision is “totally incompatible with the values, principles and objectives enshrined in the Constitutive Act of the AU”.