Israel has always craved for a seat at the African Union, and for selfish and imperialist reasons. In its push to gain an observer seat the African Union, Israel has turned to Ghana for support. Ghana's foreign minister made it a mission to see Israel getting an observer seat at the African Union during a recent visit to Israel.
There have been some reasons which have been put forth to justify Israel's place at the African Union, for example increased investment between Africa and Israel. It is part of why countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia have already endorsed Israel's bid to have an observer seat when voting takes place in February. An observer seat means that a country will be having access to all member states and will also get to address them as a bloc.
It acts more as a diplomatic weapon employed by the country which has the observer seat. It is a status which is couched as strengthening political ties. For Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Africa is serving as a diplomatic battlefield. Palestine was granted observer status in 2013. His mission is to counter Palestine's influence in Africa as the AU has taken a pro-Palestine stance over these past few years.
"Israel should once again be an observer state of the African Union … I fervently believe that it’s in your interest too, in the interest of Africa. And I hope all of you will support that goal," Netanyahu told West African leaders in Monrovia last year. Israel feels that it does have a voice at international forums, and thus when voting takes place at these forums it is disadvantaged. By turning to the AU, it is hoping for more votes at these international forums, while at the same time countering Palestine's voice.
"I ask for your support in rejecting anti-Israel bias at the United Nations, and in bodies such as the General Assembly, UNESCO and the Human Rights Council,” he appealed while adding that, “Israel is a nation that loves and respects all … In Israel, Jews, Christians and Muslims live side by side as equal citizens. This is the real Israel."
In essence, Israel has always exhibited an apartheid stance towards Palestine. Its agenda to encroach into more Palestine territories would need support and no opposition, an element they are searching for within the AU. Israel has a bargaining chip with Africa, and employs some dashes of an irresistible charm offensive. The Israeli government already provides energy, technological and agricultural expertise to a range of African nations. It has also provided arms in burgeoning conflicts in South Sudan and Burundi and provided assistance when it came to addressing the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014.
It does not become strange when other African countries stand to support Israel's bid to obtain an observer seat at the AU. PM Benjamin Netanyahu also takes the chance to visit some African countries, having visited the continent three times. Diplomatic relations between Israel and some African countries are even opening up. In 2016, the Republic of Guinea, a Muslim majority country in West Africa, became the latest country to renew diplomatic relations with Israel after it severed ties in 1967. In May, Tanzania opened an embassy in Tel Aviv. Two months ago, Rwanda and Israel indicated they would be opening embassies in each other’s country.
All this means that Israel is getting a step closer to fulfilling its goal. Securing Ghana's support is even putting Israel another step closer. A deeper look into this however will show that Israel is only keen on furthering its racial and apartheid motives against Palestine. And for the pursuance of this to be kept alive it desperately needs international support (which has always been a missing element from Israel's motives) and it is turning to Africa.
Header Image Credit: Middle East Eye