South Africa’s government says it was “appalled” by the African Union Commission’s decision last week to grant Israel observer status at the African bloc. In a statement published on Wednesday, the South African government said the “unjust and unwarranted” move was taken “unilaterally without consultations with its members”. Israel obtained AU observer status on Friday after 20 years of diplomatic efforts. It had previously held the role at the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) but was long thwarted in its attempts to regain it after the OAU was disbanded in 2002 and replaced by the AU. According to the Israeli foreign ministry, the new status could enable Israel and the AU to forge stronger cooperation on various aspects, including the fight against the coronavirus and the prevention “of the spread of extremist terrorism” on the African continent. But the South African government said the African Union’s decision “is even more shocking in a year in which the oppressed people of Palestine were hounded by destructive bombardments and continued illegal settlements of the land”.