LAGRANGE, Ohio — Naftali Bennett became prime minister of Israel in June after a 60-59 confidence vote in the country’s governing body, the Knesset. This ended Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year administration. Just a month later, the African Union announced Israel would join its multilateral body with observer status. The U.S. expressed support for this development through Senate Resolution 344, or S.Res.344, which Republican U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Mike Rounds of South Dakota are backing.
The Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee is currently considering S.Res.344. Congressional resolutions are different than general legislative bills as they generally do nothing more than reflect the opinion of either Congress or one of its respective chambers, like the Senate. Inhofe and Rounds introduced S.Res.344, which if adopted, the Secretary of the Senate, Sonceria Berry, will attest to and publish in the Congressional Record.
S.Res.344: Purpose and Impact
S.Res.344 expresses support for Israel joining the African Union as an observer. Africa would share the benefits Israel provides as a developed country, providing a path to grow the economy of fellow developing countries.
Israel has long been a valuable and active partner to many African countries, according to the resolution. “In 2017, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became the first leader outside Africa to address the Economic Community of West African States.” During the summit, Netanyahu met with leaders from several African countries.
As an observer, Israel maintains non-member status, but can still participate in union activities. S.Res.344 sees this as a peacemaking action, noting that Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi blocked Israel from joining the union — then known as the Organization of African Unity — in 2002.
The African Union is a multilateral organization consisting of 55 countries seeking solidarity among fellow nations and promoting positive development. S.Res.344 encourages heightened cooperation between Israel and African nations in areas significant to the progress toward implementing sustainable development goals involving agriculture, economic growth and humanitarian issues. It is part of a collection of 17 aspirational goals seeking to improve the quality of life for the global population, including zero hunger, decent work and international partnership.
Hence, the promotion of sustainable development will likely mean improved quality of life on the continent. This is in line with the African Union goal to “coordinate and intensify cooperation for development” to achieve such quality for the African people.
S.Res.344 notes Israel has quickly become a developed country, creating a pattern that could be used by other nations. Israel is ranked 19 in the world for multi-dimensional development, according to the U.N.’s Human Developments Report. Its citizens have a life expectancy of 83 years and each expects to attend at least 16 years of schooling.
Importance of S.Res.344 for International Peace
In 2006, the U.S. established a diplomatic mission to the African Union. It was the first non-African country to do so. Previously, Israel had difficulty achieving political influence due to its positions in the Israel-Palestine conflict. However, many of the African Union countries have decided to “separate the issue of the Palestinians from economic cooperation with Israel.”
S.Res.344 ultimately encourages both the depth and expansion of international peace efforts as negotiated through the Abraham Accords in September 2020. These three peace agreements between Israel and other countries like Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan, provide hope for peace and prosperity in the Middle East and Africa.
– Ozichukwu Ojukwu