The first Africa-Israel summit, scheduled for next month, has been “postponed,” allegedly due to boycott threats, although the announcement by the Foreign Affairs ministry gave no indication that anti-Israel pressure was behind the decision.
Following the request of the President of Togo and after consultations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it was mutually decided to postpone the Africa-Israel summit, including 54 African nations, that was due to take place in Lomé in October, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a press release.
Togo President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe stressed that elaborate preparations were needed in order to guarantee the success of the event, the MFA said.
The Togolese president, the MFA continued, “thanked and praised Netanyahu for his determination to strengthen the cooperation between his country and Israel as well as for his personal engagement to guarantee the initiative to hold the summit. He also emphasized that this event aims to unite the efforts undertaken against the threat on peace and security, which undermines stability and slows down the development of the continent.”
According to the press release, the summit will take place at a future date, although no time frame was given.
“Israel is fully committed to continue its efforts vis a vis the African continent as it has been doing during these last years, as demonstrated by the visit of the Prime Minister in the summer of 2016 to Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia as well as his participation as a guest of honor in the ECOWAS Summit in Liberia in June 2017,” the MFA said.
African Nations Benefit from Cooperation with Israel
“Israel believes that the African countries and Israel can only benefit from the continuation of practical cooperation between the two sides, and this in important areas such as water, agriculture, health and technology,” the press release concluded.
Reports indicate, however, that the postponement came about as a result of boycott threats from the Arab world, including the Palestinians. In August, as a weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that “various pressures have been placed on the Togolese president to cancel the conference.”
“These pressures are the best testimony to the success of our policy, of Israel’s presence in Africa,” he added.
Netanyahu has made strengthening Israel’s relationship with African nations a major priority. In 2016, he became the first sitting Israeli Prime Minister in 29 years to visit the continent when he went for a five-day trip to Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. During that visit, Israel renewed diplomatic ties with African countries in addition to signing significant trade deals. Netanyahu hopes that improved ties with African countries will translate into favorable voting patterns towards Israel at international forums.
“This is a long journey, but we are surely making it step by step,” Netanyahu stated in June at the prestigious economic conference in Liberia. “As a result of my visit to east Africa, we are now going to West Africa and my goal is to erode this majority, this great bloc of 54 African countries that is the basis of the automatic majority against Israel in the UN and other international bodies.”
By: Adina Katz, World Israel News