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Wednesday 13th
posted by James Tweedie in World

Palestinians thank regional states for blocking Tel Aviv’s African PR stunt

THE Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) has hailed the postponement of Israel’s African summit in the face of boycott calls a blow to its government’s “impunity.”

Yesterday veteran PLO executive and peace envoy Hanan Ashrawi thanked north African nations, South Africa and international solidarity groups for urging the summit’s cancellation, Palestine’s Wafa news agency reported.

Tel Aviv had hoped to draw representatives from many of the continent’s 54 nations to the Israel-Africa summit in Togo next month.

But on Monday the Israeli Foreign Ministry said the event had been postponed at the request of Togolese president Faure Gnassingbe after consultations with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

No official reason was given, leading to speculation that opposition protests demanding presidential term limits to prevent Mr Gnassingbe’s re-election were the cause.

But Morocco had led opposition to the summit, with King Mohammed VI boycotting a June meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) at which Mr Netanyahu was a guest.

And in July South Africa’s ruling ANC debated a policy document at its five-yearly conference that called for a rejection of Israel’s overtures.

Mr Netanyahu toured a string of African countries last summer with the slogan “Israel is returning to Africa and Africa is returning to Israel.”

Ms Ashrawi said Togo’s decision “sends a strong message that the world will not give Israel a free hand to infiltrate the continents of Africa and South America in order to gain legitimacy for its occupation [of Palestinian land] and votes in the United Nations.”

In a statement, she thanked the groups and nations including Algeria, Mauritania and Tunisia “that courageously advocated for the cancellation of the summit and refused to allow Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to gain a foothold in the African continent.”

They had prevented Tel Aviv “furthering impunity for the military occupation and Israel’s ongoing unlawful unilateralism and violations of international law,” she added.

“It is our hope that this signals a new determination on the part of governments worldwide to hold Israel to account and to end its impunity and its deliberate destruction of the two-state solution and the chances for peace.”