The 33rd African Union (AU) Summit (9-10 February 2020) came to an end in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, under the theme “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa's Development” and with the purpose of reducing tensions in Africa to achieve development in the continent, while the heads of African Union’s state and government rejected the American peace plan, the so-called deal of the century, in a declaration and expressed their solidarity with the Palestinian nation. In a part of the declaration, the African leaders have reaffirmed that all Zionist settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem (al-Quds) and the occupied Syrian Golan are illegal, null, and void. In remarks at the opening of the AU summit, chairperson of the African Union Commission said the ‘deal of the century’, prepared without any consultation with Palestinians, was unacceptable and a violation of their rights. He also added that the American plan is a violation of all resolutions adopted by the United Nations and the African Union on the Palestinian issue, and warned against an escalation of tensions between the Palestinians and Israelis. The African Union and its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), had already defended Palestine in the past decades, but not many observers expected the African Union to stand against the pressures from the US and the Zionist regime with such decisiveness and unanimity, considering that this time US President Donald Trump has been leading the attempts in a bully-style manner to declare and support the peace deal. Also he has given Israel’s prior plans to prepare the ground in Africa for that deal which had begun in 2017 with Netanyahu’s new decision to visit several African countries and continued until recently with the official announcement of the deal of the century.
Since the outset, the relations between Israel and Africa had been swinging between suspicion and proximity logic. Even before establishing a regime in the occupied territories, the Zionists paid special attention to Africa and had plans to found the world’s first Jewish settlement in Uganda or Kenya, not in the occupied territories. The Zionists had also put forward ideas for transferring the Jewish people of Yemen and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly called Zaire) or Sudan. After establishing a regime in the Palestinian territories, the Zionists have always worked on plans for infiltration into Africa as strategic depth and a security belt to besiege the Arabs and create a suitable space for the expansion of their regional and international hegemony as the main priority in their foreign policy. Since the early days of declaration of the establishment of the Zionist regime, the Zionists have been abusing the poverty and weakness of the African governments and the internal conflicts in the continent and have been attempting to infiltrate into Africa.
The issue of Palestine has been always a major barrier between the Zionist regime and Africa. Despite decades of attempts and even the full support from the US, the Zionists have been unable to overcome that obstacle because an anti-colonialism and pro-liberalism spirit prevails in the African nations, and the African governments and people, particularly the Muslims have great respect for the cause of Palestine. Moreover, the African countries and organizations have repeatedly condemned the Zionist regime’s wrong and criminal measures in the occupied territories and the bulk of African countries have always decried the recurrent Israeli violation of the international law, regulations, and norms. In addition, the public opinion in nearly all African nations has been always suspicious about Israel’s deceptive practices in Africa which has frustrated Tel Aviv’s desperate attempts in the Dark Continent.
Following the election of Donald Trump as the US president and his unwavering support for Israel and the speculation about the deal of the century, the Zionist regime began to take advantage of the situation in the Middle East region and the insecurity in the northern and western parts of Africa to launch a new attempt to have an influence on the African countries and organizations. In recent years, Netanyahu has made new moves in Africa by traveling to Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and even to Chad after a 45-year hiatus in the relations. They could even allow Israel to establish a foothold in intervention in the Horn of Africa disputes and the rivalry between the Red Sea and the Nile region under the auspices of the US, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
In 2018, Netanyahu could even attend the ECOWAS summit for the first time and held direct negotiations and consultations with the heads of the West African states. Netanyahu was well aware that considering the growing consensus among the African countries and the pan-African policies of the African Union, all Israeli attempts to influence and attract support from the African countries in connection with the deal of the century must be endorsed by the African Union. As a result, he launched a new round of attempts to have Israel join the African Union as an observer member. Netanyahu even crossed the line and proposed that Israel should administer and hold the African Union summit in Togo for the first time. The plot, however, was thwarted with the vigilance of the African Union which changed the venue of the summit. Israel’s last-ditch hopes for Egypt’s presidency of the African Union were dashed after South Africa assumed chairmanship of the African Union in a February 2020 summit and the path for further Israeli influence was practically blocked. The African Union leaders also dismissed the excuse that the head of Sudan's transitional council had given for holding a meeting with Netanyahu in order to receive Israeli support for lifting the sanctions against Sudan and practically nullified Netanyahu’s trump card by including the subject of removal of the international sanctions against Sudan in the agenda of the 33rd African Union summit.
While Netanyahu and Trump unveiled the controversial “deal of the century” in order to get rid of the dire consequences of domestic and regional defeats, consolidate Tel Aviv’s hegemony in the occupied territories, and attract the attention of the weaker countries of the world -mainly located in Africa- to the Zionist regime, they once again faced condemnation and received a red card from the African Union which represents 54 countries of the continent. It shows that the African countries and institutions have become more unified and stronger in the face of foreign pressures. It also reveals that the cause of Palestine is still alive in many nations and governments in light of fortitude and resistance. Furthermore, the deal of the century is not achievable as easily as what Trump and Netanyahu have imagined in spite of years of treason, passiveness, and compromise from certain Palestinian figures and heads of Arab states or their overt and covert cooperation with the US and Zionists.
(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)