Israeli diplomat removed from African Union summit

A senior Israeli diplomat has been removed from the African Union’s annual summit in Ethiopia as a dispute over Israel’s accreditation to the bloc escalated.

A video posted on social media showed security personnel walking Ambassador Sharon Bar-Li out of the auditorium during the opening ceremony of the summit in Addis Ababa on Saturday.

Ebba Kalondo, the spokes­person for the African Union’s chairman, said the diplomat was removed because she was not the duly accredited Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia – the official who was expected.

An AU official later told AFP news agency that the diplomat who was “asked to leave” had not been invited to the meeting, with a non-transferable invitation issued only to Israel’s ambassador to the African Union, Aleli Admasu.

“It is regrettable that the individ­ual in question would abuse such a courtesy,” the official added.

The move was swiftly con­demned by Israel.

“Israel looks harshly upon the incident in which the deputy director for Africa, Ambassador Sharon Bar-Li, was removed from the African Union hall despite her status as an accredited observer with entrance badges,” the Israeli foreign ministry said.

Israel blamed the incident on South Africa and Algeria, two key nations in the 55-country bloc, saying they were holding the AU hostage and were driven by “hate”.

Vincent Magwenya, spokesman for South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, present at the summit, demanded that Israel “substantiate their claim” after the latter accused arch-foe, Iran, of orchestrating the move with help from Algeria and South Africa.

Israel’s foreign ministry said the charge d’affaires at South Africa’s embassy would be summoned for a reprimand. —Al jazeera

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