African Union closes ranks in support of Palestinian struggle
At a time when Israel has sought observer status at the AU and tried to convince some African states to move their embassies to Jerusalem, African leaders at the 34th AU Summit over the weekend closed ranks and reaffirmed their support for the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation.
AU leaders condemned the continued construction of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land, the colonisation of East Jerusalem, and Israel's violence against Palestinians.
The final AU statement issued on Sunday stressed that the illegal settlements constitute a serious violation of international law and UN resolutions.
The Palestinian leadership has welcomed the strong AU statement of solidarity with their cause, particularly the continent's support for the creation of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. The AU says it will work with other international actors to ensure the creation of a Palestinian state within the borders of June 4, 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.
"We deeply appreciate African solidarity for the Palestinian cause, and are particularly appreciative of the AU’s call to its members to preserve the legal status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state, and refrain from any actions that undermine the legal status of the city, particularly moving embassies to Jerusalem," Palestinian Ambassador to South Africa Hanan Jarar said Monday.
"The AU Summit’s final statement reflects the deeply-rooted bonds between Africa’s anti-colonial struggles and that of the Palestinian people, and the deep-seated historic solidarity between the peoples of Africa and Palestine."
Jarar welcomed the AU's unequivocal call on Israel to end its military occupation of Palestine, and said that Palestinians hope AU states will individually call on Israel to end the occupation.
This is also the hope of many of the Palestine solidarity groups on the African continent, which have hailed the AU statement. The Israeli government has not yet reacted to the AU statement.
The AU highlighted the Israeli military's use of lethal, unlawful and excessive force against Palestinian civilians, with the AU calling for accountability for these unlawful acts, as well as for the actions committed by Israeli settlers in the occupied territories.
The AU statement argues that as the occupying power, Israel is fully responsible for acts of violence committed against Palestinian civilians and their property.
The move by the government of Malawi in November, announcing its intention to establish its embassy in Jerusalem, has been roundly criticised on the continent.
In a call largely aimed at Malawi, the AU called on its members to preserve the legal status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state, and refrain from any actions that undermine the legal status of the city, particularly moving embassies to Jerusalem.
In another blow to Israeli authorities, the International Criminal Court has approved that Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank are under its jurisdiction, and has approved the ICC prosecutor's request to open legal proceedings against possible war crimes committed by the Israeli occupation.