A New Ally for Israel: South Sudan

Washington, July 28 – Israel established full diplomatic relations on Thursday with the fledgling Republic of South Sudan, which gained statehood just 19 days ago. Israel gave recognition to the republic the following day.

The new allies wish “to promote and strengthen ties of friendship and cooperation between their countries and peoples, on the basis of equality, mutual respect and non interference in the internal affairs of one another,” according to a statement issued Thursday by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “The practical aspects of this decision, including the accreditation of Ambassadors, will be pursued through diplomatic channels.”

Upon Israel’s recognition of South Sudan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We wish it success. It is a peace-seeking country and we would be happy to cooperate with it in order to ensure its development and prosperity."

A delegation of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials recently traveled to the South Sudanese capital of Juba to begin talks with top-level government officials of the nascent nation. Israel plans to embark soon on talks for repatriation of the roughly 8,000 South Sudanese, mostly Christian citizens who fled South Sudan to Israel in recent years, according to Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai.

As Israel recognized South Sudan, the Israeli humanitarian group IsraAID began putting together a long-term aid plan to address myriad basic survival and psychological issues. South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world.

“As a small and relatively newborn country, Israel has gained experience in various factors of water, agriculture, post-trauma, education, migration and others that would be valuable to the people of South Sudan who are now building their country,” said Shachar Zahavi, IsraAID's founding director. “It is our mission and Jewish commitment to reach out to our new friends in any way we can.”

Israel is also providing aid to neighboring Somalia, where a drought threatens the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Many have left their homes and trekked across difficult terrain to refugee camps in Kenya. Israeli aid groups are among the international organizations trying to get food and other supplies to the refugees.

Israel was one of the first countries to recognize the Republic of South Sudan. The South Sudanesecelebrated Israel’s recognition by waving Israeli flags in the streets – a show of thanks for the aid Israel has provided to the area during decades of bloody warfare with Sudan, an Arab-governed country.

The South Sudanese people voted in January to break off from Sudan, and the new country also has been accepted as the 54th member of the African Union and the 193rd member of the United Nations.

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