By Isa Rilwan
Israeli delegation led by Deputy Director for Africa at the Foreign Ministry, Sharon Barley, was expelled from the African Union (AU) conference hall in Addis Ababa. An AU official told AFP the individual who was “asked to leave” was not invited to attend the meeting. A diplomatic source revealed he had sneaked in with fake badges. “It is regrettable that the individual in question would abuse such a courtesy,” AU Commission chief’s spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said.
Israel was granted observer status in the African Union in July 2021, in a move that drew fire from a number of African countries, including Algeria and South Africa. A non-transferable invitation was only issued to Israel’s Ambassador to the AU, Aleli Admasu to attend.
Meanwhile Palestinian groups on Sunday hailed the expulsion of an Israeli delegation from the AU summit. “The expulsion is consistent with the AU support for our people and their legitimate rights,” Fatah movement said in a statement. The group, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, praised efforts of all countries “that prevented the Israeli participation in the AU summit.”
Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, also welcomed efforts that blocked Israel’s participation in the AU summit. “These efforts are consistent with the values and principles of the AU and this step was necessary to close the door to Israel’s attempts to have a foothold in Africa,” Hamas spokesman Jihad Taha said in a statement. The Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), for its part, called for annulling Israel’s observer status in the AU in its entirety.
However, Israel takes the incident in which its Deputy Director for Africa, Ambassador Sharon Barley, was removed from the African Union Hall very seriously and accused South Africa and Algeria for expelling the Israeli delegation. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesman Vincent Magwenya told AFP at the summit, asked the Israel Government to substantiate their claim.”