Netanyahu arrived in Africa Sunday to attend a prestigious economic conference. He hopes to strengthen ties with African nations who would then vote positively towards Israel at the UN.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Liberia Monday as the first non-African leader to attend the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a major African regional conference. He was greeted by an honor guard, and spoke with Commission President Marcel Alain de Souza about how to deepen relationships between Israel and the Commission.
Netanyahu was the first leader of a non-African country ever to be invited to the conference, which he attributed to Israel’s rapidly warming ties with the continent. “I am leaving now for a conference of West African countries,” said Netanyahu. “This is the first time they have invited the leader of a non-African country to address them; I very much appreciate it. Israel is returning to Africa in a big way.”
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 acknowledged. “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.”
The visit was not without controversy. Morocco’s King Mohamed VI announced he would boycott the meeting in light of Netanyahu’s presence, saying that he “wished his first visit to a ECOWAS summit not take place in a context of tension and controversy.”
By: Tzvi Lev, World Israel News