Israeli diplomat expelled from African Union summit

Security escorts Deputy Director General for Africa Sharon Bar-Li from the summit, claiming she was not the correct Israeli official to attend the conference; Hamas praises the expulsion
Emily Schrader|
In a grave breach of protocol, the Israeli delegation to the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa was expelled from the session hall despite Israel having observer status at the African Union and having proper credentials.
  • Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter

  • Israel was granted observer status by the African Union (AU) in 2021, by African Union chief Moussa Faki Mahamat – a decision which sparked harsh criticism from Algeria and South Africa, despite Israel’s tremendous contributions to the continent of Africa in both the public and private sectors.
    4 View gallery
    שרון בר-לי
    שרון בר-לי
    African Union summit, Sharon Bar-Li
    In response to Israel’s observer status, South Africa has led a campaign to strip Israel of the status in 2022, but the decision was deferred until a later date. A committee has not yet reviewed Israel’s status as an observer.
    Despite the prior controversy, Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General for Africa Sharon Bar-Li, who was a credentialed diplomat to the annual summit in Ethiopia this week, was escorted out by security personnel after they approached her in the opening ceremony hall and demanded she leave. Footage of the incident went viral after it was shared on social media shortly after the incident.
    The Foreign Ministry said in an official statement that the Israeli government “takes seriously the incident in which the Israeli representative was removed from the debate at the African Union summit.”
    A ministry spokesperson, Lior Hayat, also added that the stunt was spearheaded by South Africa and Algeria, “it is sad to see that the African Union has been taken hostage by a small number of extremist countries such as Algeria and South Africa, driven by hatred and controlled by Iran,” he stated.
    4 View gallery
    ליאור חייט שובר שיא עולם במרתון ראיונות תחת הכותרת "מדברים שלום"
    ליאור חייט שובר שיא עולם במרתון ראיונות תחת הכותרת "מדברים שלום"
    Lior Hayat
    (Photo: Foreign Ministry)
    The ministry further added that “the attempt to cancel Israel's observer status has no basis in the organization's rules…there is a clear majority that supports Israel's observer status in the organization.”
    Despite that, South Africa has been a vocal opponent of Israel being granted observer status at the AU, and opposed the initial accreditation of Israel as well. In response to the expulsion of Bar-li from the summit, South Africa claimed that the decision to grant Israel observer status had not been decided upon and as such they had to expel the Israeli delegation from the floor.
    "Until the AU takes a decision on whether to grant Israel observer status, you cannot have the country sitting and observing," said Clayson Monyela, head of public diplomacy in South Africa's department of international relations.
    Justifications from the African Union for the reason Bar-Li was expelled have been contradictory. According to the spokesperson for the African Union’s commission chairman Ebba Kalondo, Bar-Li was expelled because she was not the correct Israeli official to attend the conference, claiming that only the Israeli Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia was expected.
    4 View gallery
    פסגת האיחוד האפריקני
    פסגת האיחוד האפריקני
    African Union summit
    Yet a statement from AU chief Mahamat blamed the debate over Israel’s observer status, claiming, "Last year we discussed the question of Israel's status as an observer in the African Union. Following these various discussions, the conference decided to set up an ad hoc committee of heads of state on the question, which means that the statute is suspended until this committee can deliberate. And so we did not invite Israeli officials to our summit."
    On the South African opposition to Israel at the AU, Rowan Polovin, South African Zionist Federation National Chairman, told Ynet, “there is a clear majority in Africa that supports Israel’s observer Status, with 44 of the 55 African states enjoying positive relations with the only democracy in the Middle East. Israel was rightfully and legally in attendance to the summit that took place over the weekend.”
    “More importantly,” he added, “Israel deserves observer status in the AU, given the remarkable work that she does in Africa to provide sustainable clean drinking water to millions of people in Africa, as well as provide food security, training, skills development, security coordination and other important efforts.”
    4 View gallery
    ציון 35 שנים להקמת ארגון הטרור חמאס בעזה
    ציון 35 שנים להקמת ארגון הטרור חמאס בעזה
    Hamas militants in Gaza
    (Photo: Reuters)
    In response to the events, Palestinian terror group Hamas issued an official statement praising the expulsion of the Israeli delegation and praising South Africa for their anti-Israel positions.
    “Such an honorable position goes in line with the South African ruling party's previous stances in support of the Palestinian cause,” they claimed. Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Palestinian party Fatah, and Iranian regime newspapers also came out in praise of the incident and South Africa.
    In an official statement, the Israeli foreign ministry stated that South African chargé d'affaires in Israel will be summoned to the ministry for further discussion.
    The commenter agrees to the privacy policy of Ynet News and agrees not to submit comments that violate the terms of use, including incitement, libel and expressions that exceed the accepted norms of freedom of speech.