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African Summit’s final declaration deems all Israeli settlements illegal

Africa(In Palestine Today)- At the 34th African Union (AU) Summit that was held virtually over the weekend, African leaders reaffirmed the continent’s support for the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation, and strongly condemned Israel’s violence against Palestinians; its construction of illegal settlements; and attempts at colonizing East Jerusalem.

In a stinging rebuke that was issued in the Summit’s final statement on Sunday, the AU confirmed the illegality of all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Syrian Golan Heights, stressing that Israel’s settlements constitute serious violations of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions.

In a call largely aimed at Malawi, the AU also 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 November, Lazarus Chakwera’s administration in Malawi announced the country’s intention to establish its embassy in Jerusalem. African leaders at the AU Summit stressed that any measures taken by Israel – as the occupying power – to colonize the city of Jerusalem, including imposing its laws, jurisdiction and administration, are illegal.

The Israeli military’s use of lethal, unlawful and excessive force against Palestinian civilians was also highlighted, with the AU calling for accountability for these unlawful acts as well as for the actions committed by Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

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 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.

Speaking from Ramallah, Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, welcomed the AU’s strong, comprehensive statement on Israel’s occupation and its support of the creation of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders. “We deeply appreciate African solidarity for the Palestinian cause,” said Palestinian ambassador to South Africa, Hanan Jarrar.

Palestine solidarity groups across the continent also welcomed the AU’s strong statements, and activists hoped that the strong words would encourage individual African countries to pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestine, which has now entered its 54th year.

The Israeli government has not reacted to the AU statement. However, the strong condemnation from AU members is a blow to Israel’s efforts to gain observer status at the AU, says South African writer, Suraya Dadoo.  “For years, Israel has been trying to obtain observer status at the AU so that it can influence Africa’s relationship with Palestine. The ultimate aim is to dissolve African solidarity with Palestine,” says Dadoo.

– Source: Afro-Palestine Newswire Services

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