During the African Union’s annual summit in Ethiopia, a senior Israeli diplomat was removed from the venue, further exacerbating the disagreement between Israel and the bloc over Israel’s accreditation. Photos posted online showed African Union security officials confronting the diplomat during the opening ceremony of the summit, following which she left the auditorium. Israel’s foreign ministry, which issued a statement condemning the incident, argued that the diplomat, Ambassador Sharon Bar-Li, was an accredited observer with entrance badges. However, the African Union said the diplomat was not the duly accredited Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia who was expected.

Allegations and Accusations

Israel’s Foreign Ministry held South Africa and Algeria accountable for the incident and stated that they were holding the African Union hostage and were motivated by “hate.” The ministry also added that it would summon South Africa’s charge d’affaires at Israel’s embassy for a reprimand. However, South Africa dismissed the claim and clarified that the decision to grant Israel observer status at the AU had not been made. Clayson Monyela, head of public diplomacy in South Africa’s department of international relations, added that until the AU makes a decision on whether to grant Israel observer status, the country cannot sit and observe. South Africa’s ruling party has historically been a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause. The Algerian delegation, which is another key country in the 55-country bloc, has yet to comment on the incident.