Netanyahu Met with 15 African Leaders during UN General Assembly

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets leaders and representatives of African states on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, September 22, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Netanyahu met with African officials and heads of state from 15 African nations over the weekend during the United Nations General Assembly, as Israel continues to strengthen and increase its diplomatic and cooperative relations with African states. The event focused on increasing cooperation in the areas of security and technology with African nations.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon was part of the event that presented Israeli innovations, technology and Israeli startups to world leaders, the event most attended by African leaders and diplomats.

Over the weekend, Netanyahu met with the presidents of Benin, Central Africa Republic, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, Tonga and Uganda, as well as the Prime Minister of Sot and of Swaziland, as well as officials from Burundi, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan.

He also met privately with President Idriss Deby of Chad, ties between Israel and Chad cut off since 1972. Relations between Chad and Israel are improving, Israel’s Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold having visited Chad by invitation in July, the first visit by an Israeli official to Chad since severed relations. Media reports claim an announcement of resumed ties will likely occur in the near future.

Netanyahu stated during the meeting “Africa excites our [Israel’s] imagination. We would like to propose a friendship and a partnership with every one of your countries.” He spoke of Israel’s advances in technology and security and how much Israel can contribute to Africa, stating “I believe that Israel can be an amazing partner for your countries. Technology changes everything. And technology is related to so many areas: to healthcare, agriculture, education, and so much more. We want to share our knowledge and technology with the world.” He called from cooperation “government to government” and company to company” in both security and technology in what “will shape the future of our peoples.” He ended by personally inviting “all of you to Israel, to Jerusalem” adding that he looks forward to continuing the conversation at the ECOWAS in Uganda.

Ambassador Danon stated on the event “Israel continues to focus on technologies and innovations that led us to our status as the ‘startup nation’. Our partnership with Africa and the developing world is based not just on the trade of goods, but on the young human capital that is filled with the desire to change the world for the better. Diplomatic and economic relations between Israel, Africa and the developing world are in full swing, and we encourage Israeli companies to continue to invest in Africa and developing countries.”

The event comes following Prime Minister Netanyahu visit to four African states (Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia) during his Africa tour in July. During his visit, he met with heads of state from seven states. Several leaders have voiced commitment and favor in restoring Israel’s observer status in the African Union.

During Netanyahu’s debrief following his Africa tour, he stated on his meeting with seven leaders from Africans states that they have “agreed to act to strengthen our links with additional African countries. They declared that they would work to restore Israel as an observer to the African Union, which is composed of 54 countries. Even though this is a process that will take time, there is no doubt that this is the start of a long journey toward dealing with the automatic majority against Israel in international forums, an automatic majority that rests, first and foremost, on a bloc of African countries. This will not be achieved immediately. It will take a lot of time, but we have begun the process.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is scheduled to attend the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Nigeria at the end of 2016.

This article originally appeared on Behold Israel, September 25, 2016 and reposted with permission.