Aside the bilateral meetings and signing of agreements that characterized the visit to Israel by Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, one key point stands out, the return of Israel to the continent’s biggest political bloc, the African Union (AU).
The subject came up in Desalegn’s meetings with President Reuven Rivlin on Monday and Tuesday’s meeting with his counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We are very anxious to get back to the connection that we had with Africa and you are a real place and nation that we have to ask you to be our sponsors in Africa in order to let us be once again people who can attend all the meetings and the conference of Africa,” President Rivlin told PM Desalegn.
I hope that you will support Israel's return to the African Union as an observer state. I think and I believe that this is not only in our interest but it's in the interest of Africa.
Then the position was reechoed by Netanyahu in his opening address when he met the Ethiopian Premier. “I hope that you will support Israel’s return to the African Union as an observer state. I think and I believe that this is not only in our interest but it’s in the interest of Africa,” he stressed
Israel was an observer state in the era of the Organization of African Union (OAU). It lost that position in 2002 when the OAU was dissolved leading to the creation of the AU. The AU warms up to the Palestinian people more and the Palestinian President addresses its Heads of State summits.
Speaking at a meeting of West African leaders in Liberia over the weekend Natanyahu continued to woo leaders to that effect. Israel strongly believes its absence in the African Union has affected the country in terms of votes in international forums as a result of the country’s voice not being heard.
Before his visit to Liberia, he told local media that the purpose of the trip was to “dissolve this majority, this giant bloc of 54 African countries that is the basis of the automatic majority against Israel in the U.N. and international bodies.”
Watch the full video of Netanyahu’s address below: