African leaders seeking diplomatic and economic ties with Israel

Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta in Jerusalem, on February 23, 2016. (Photo: Haim Zach/GPO)

Africa is no longer walking in lockstep with Arab nations’ demands and Israel should use this opportunity to renew ties to nations on that continent, according to a political leader from Africa.

Pointing to the long history between Africa and Israel dating back to Moses, the Queen of Sheba and even Jesus’ time in Egypt, Joël N’Guessan said the time is ripe to restore this ancient relationship.

N’Guessan, spokesperson for the Ivory Coast president, said that nations in Africa are being courted by Arab and Asian nations. Israel would show similar interest by creating business investments in the continent, he said.

“It is important for Israel not only to restore diplomatic relations with Africa but there must be a renewal of Israeli investment in Africa,” he said. “We need Israel to invest in Africa. We cannot allow other nations to build these ties.”

African nations are keenly interested in strengthening diplomatic and business relations with Israel, and the Jewish state would do well to return the sentiment before other nations fill the gap, an Ivory Coast political spokesman said today in Jerusalem.

N’Guessan spoke on Wednesday at a news conference during the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem Feast of Tabernacles celebration.

This summer Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent two weeks in Africa meeting with leaders there and later met with African officials and heads of state from 15 African nations at the United Nations General Assembly. Historically African nations have sided with Arab states in United Nations votes.

ICEJ Executive Director Jurgen Bühler said that over the last five years, as ICEJ officials have traveled to Africa to further the ministry’s work, leaders there, even those of Muslim majority nations, asked them to pass on messages to Israeli officials that they are interested in renewing relations saying, “we are fed up with Arab leaders, they are racist, they hate black people, they only want to bring jihad to our country.”

Since the Arab Spring in the Middle East starting late 2010, the “cards of the Middle East have been reshuffled” and no one leader remains any more, Bühler said.

“We call upon the Israeli government to move fast because we don’t know how long this window will be open,” Bühler said. “This is a unique opportunity for Israel to seize.”

“There is a possibility to change voting patterns [in the UN], even from countries who have been against Israel for decades,” Bühler continued.

The news conference came just a day after UNESCO’s executive board approved a resolution denying Jewish and Christian connections to Jerusalem holy sites. Israel would also benefit by gaining support in the United Nations from African nations who have tended to side with anti-Israel votes put up by Arab nations.

The ICEJ is hosting some 5,000 political leaders and Christian pilgrims from 90 nations in Jerusalem for the weeklong celebration of Sukkot.