Zwelivelile Mandela, a grandson of iconic South African leader Nelson Mandela, has joined a growing chorus against the African Union’s decision to grant observer status to Israel. “We cannot normalize relations with apartheid Israel while it continuously rides roughshod over the human rights of the Palestinians, incarcerates, tortures and maims innocent civilians, acts with impunity and violates international law as if it is a law unto itself,” Mandela, a parliament member for the ruling African National Congress, said in a statement late on Wednesday. He said the decision was “fatally flawed” as AU Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat “acted unilaterally and without consulting member states or executive members of the African Union.” Mandela urged the South African government to cut all diplomatic ties and expel Tel Aviv’s ambassador, stressing that “apartheid Israel” has repeatedly refused to be part of a “genuine peace process.” Amid immense furor, Mahamat has defended the move and said it falls within his full “sphere of competence.” He claimed in a statement last month that the decision was taken because Israel has restored diplomatic relations with more than two-thirds of AU member states. Experts, however, have identified flaws in Mahamat’s reasoning, pointing out that the AU Commission chief can only grant the status if the applicant state conducts itself in line with the AU’s Constitutive Act, and AU member states do not oppose the accreditation. “We call on Africans all over the continent and in the diaspora to come out in protest … We must disassociate from the unilateral decision to grant apartheid Israel’s regime observer status,” Mandela said. Referring to reports that some South Africans are serving in the Israeli military, he said the government must try them for “war crimes and violating the country’s Foreign Military Assistance Act.” “They are guilty of committing gross human rights violations against Palestinian civilians at checkpoints every day,” Mandela said.