South Africa says it is appalled by what it calls unjust and unwanted decision by the African Union Commission to grant Israel observer status in the African Union.

It termed the decision unilateral and shocking coming in the same year that Palestinians suffered a bombardment in May that left several of them dead and their homes destroyed. On Thursday last week, Israel obtained observer status at the African Union. Palestine already enjoys observer status and enjoys significant support from member states.

In a statement, South Africa decried the decision which it termed as unilateral and inexplicable. Spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) Clayson Monyela said Israel continues to occupy Palestine in complete defiance of its international obligations and relevant UN resolutions, adding that the “unjust actions committed by Israel ” offend the letter and spirit of the Charter of the African Union.

On Thursday last week, the Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia, Burundi and Chad Aleli Adamsu handed in his credentials to the Chairman of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat at the headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Israel had observer status at the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) until 2002, when it was replaced by the African Union.

South Africa says it will seek an explanation from the African Union Commission on the decision which Monyela says South Africa hopes will be discussed by the Executive Council and the Assembly of Heads of State and government.

Algeria has also protested the decision.