Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman early next month will lead an Israeli delegation on a visit to five African nations: Angola, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Ethiopia and Kenya. It will be Lieberman’s second trip to Africa since assuming his current post in 2009.
The Foreign Ministry is attaching great importance to Lieberman’s trip, as an Israeli foreign minister had not visited those particular nations in decades. After his previous tour of Africa, Israel noted a marked improvements in the voting patterns of African nations vis-a-vis Israel at the United Nations, as well as a marked strengthening of bilateral ties.
Lieberman said that “ties with African nations have strategic importance to Israel in terms of security, diplomacy and economics. …we see the results [of such visits] in the strengthening of cooperation in areas of mutual importance for both Israel and the African nations.”
Lieberman will also reportedly request that Israel be reinstated as an observer nation at the bi-annual summit of the African Union. Israel held this position up until 2002, when former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who funded much of the Union’s activities, demanded the Jewish state be expelled from the gathering.
Meanwhile, the Knesset earlier this month established its first ever lobby for advancing Israel-Africa relations. At the event launching the new effort, Lieberman said it is right for Israel to “invest more resources in foreign aid, which, especially in the case of Africa, is also beneficial economically and politically [for Israel]. Africa is an important part of Israel’s foreign policy.”
The foreign minister added: “I see investment in Africa with great importance for the humanitarian, economic and political spheres. There are many fields in which Israel can provide assistance and aid development: agriculture, water management, medicine, combatting terrorism, and more.”
PHOTO: Liberman meeting with former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga in Jerusalem in 2011.