Netanyahu in Africa: Include Us in African Union, Support Us at United Nations

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) conference.
Photo courtesy of Kobi Gideon / Israeli GPO

Israel wants to partner with African nations to build a better future for Africa. They also hope to build a better future for Israel, too—specifically, in international organizations such as the United Nations and the African Union. “Our growing bilateral relations should also be reflected, I believe, in international forums,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday in comments released by his office during a visit to Liberia.

Netanyahu went on to ask for African nations’ “support in rejecting anti-Israel bias at the United Nations,” as well as calling for Israel to again be an observer state of the African Union (AU). Regarding the AU status, Netanyahu said, “Now, it’s clearly—and I say this openly, especially with my great sympathy and affinity for Africa. It’s definitely in our interest. But, ladies and gentlemen, I fervently believe that it’s in your interest too, in the interest of Africa.”

Observer status at the AU, which is not the same as membership, has been granted to dozens of nations around the world. A column by research intern Lona Gziqa posted to the website of the South African-based foreign policy think tank Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD) discussing Kazakhstan’s observer status noted that the status opens opportunities for more bilateral relations across the African continent. This can impact economic cooperation and foreign policy.

The Israelis are already making cooperation with Africa in those fields a priority. Netanyahu, speaking at a summit with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), said his nation and the West African group “are in advanced stages of cooperation on joint projects in agriculture, in energy, education.”

To further that spirit of cooperation, Netanyahu noted that they are opening new trade missions in East and West Africa.

“We are prepared to send technology survey teams to every one of your countries, and to look and see, together, what is the best way that we can cooperate,” said Netanyahu. “Those of you have already experienced our teams and our capabilities can attest to the wisdom of such a move. I invite all of you, without exception, to do this.”

As a global technology leader, Israel can offer many advantages to African nations and help them progress quickly, noted Netanyahu. “Africans are seizing the future. Israel wants to seize this future with you. You truly have no better partner for this mission than Israel.”

Already, things are improving for Israel. In a separate Israeli press release, Netanyahu noted that he is this was the first time ECOWAS has invited the leader of a non-African country to address the organization.

“Israel is returning to Africa in a big way. 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 blocking majority of 54 African countries that is the basis of the automatic majority against Israel in the UN and other international bodies,” said Netanyahu.

“I think that it is to Israel’s credit how they esteem us. This is a long journey but we are surely making it step by step.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, June 4, 2017)


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