In the wake of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s relationship-building visits to Africa beginning last summer, many African countries, even some with a Muslim majority and leadership, have started to warm up to the idea of diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.
His endeavors seem to be bearing fruit as more African nations are showing favor towards Israel. With Israel’s positive influence on the African continent, and historic relationships forged, the rift between Senegal and Israel has begun to heal.
Netanyahu met with some leaders of West African countries, including President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali. Mali is a Muslim-majority nation with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations.
Another encouraging development is the new relationship forming between Israel and Cape Verde. Following the meeting in Monrovia, Liberia in June this year with Cape Verde President Jorge Carlos Fonseca, Netanyahu has said the Cape Verdean leader has agreed to support Israel at the United Nations. The clip of their initial meeting shows Netanyahu greeting his host in French and explaining some of his Spanish ancestry. The meeting was amicable and the small island nation, with a Christian majority, pledged their support for the Jewish state.
Netanyahu welcomed the decision of the president of Cape Verde and added that it is the result of intensive diplomatic activity between Israel and Africa.
In addition, two other African nations, Senegal and Guinea, are sending their first-ever representatives to Israel this week. The ambassadors, Talla Fall of Senegal, and Amara Camara of Guinea will be presenting their documents to President Reuven Rivlin at a ceremony in Jerusalem.
Both of these Muslim-majority countries in West Africa have existing diplomatic ties with Israel — and there are a substantial number of Israeli entrepreneurs living there — but this is the first time these nations have appointed ambassadors to Israel. Neither of the two ambassadors will be residing in Israel as they will work out of Cairo and Paris respectively. Nevertheless, the allocation of official representation to Israel is significant in diplomatic terms.
One of Netanyahu’s foreign policy objectives is to reach Africa in an attempt to halt and overturn the traditional anti-Israel sentiment propagated on that continent by organizations such as the UN.
“Israel and many African countries have many similarities, both in our experiences and our conditions,” the prime minister said, equating Israel to Africa. “We both knew slavery, exile and being refugees. We were both conquered and were colonized and we regained sovereignty in modern times. We both have a small hold, family approach to farming and, as in many cases across Africa, live in and next to the desert.”
In the last 14 months, Netanyahu has hosted several African leaders and visited Africa twice. In October he will be attending a major Africa-Israel summit in Togo.