Israel Hosts African Leaders, Discuss Diplomacy and Cooperation

Jerusalem, Nov. 14 - Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday (Nov. 13) and President Shimon Peres Monday (Nov. 14) during his visit to Israel. The leaders discussed diplomatic challenges and ways to advance bilateral cooperation between Uganda and Israel.

Netanyahu also met with Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga Monday (Nov. 14) to continue the “deepening of Israel's relations with African countries,” a media statement announced. Previously, Netanyahu met with South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 22 in New York.

Israel recognized South Sudan as a country immediately after it gained independence and offered it economic aid, Reuters reported in July. “Israel is home to thousands of Sudanese refugees and migrant workers who arrived on foot after crossing the Egyptian Sinai,” the news agency reported.

Uganda and Israel’s relations are also on the upswing. After Ugandan dictator Idi Amin cooperated with a group of Palestinian hijackers in order to seize a plane and take it to Uganda’s Entebbe Airport in 1976, Israel embarked on an operation to free the hostages.

But in 2006, Ugandans and Israelis commemorated the 30th anniversary of the raid. Uganda, under the leadership of President Museveni, is now embarking on a project that will convert some of the airport buildings into a museum. It will include a terminal where the hostages were held and the original control tower. Another feature will be an eight-foot-high plaque telling the story of the raid, bearing the Israeli and Ugandan flags.

A JTA article in June 2011 also noted that Israel has shown heavy interest in Africa, and has worked to create solar technology to aid orphanages and schools in Uganda, among other nations.

Uganda’s Ambassador to the United States Perezi Kanunanwire was among 18 Washington-based ambassadors and one other senior diplomat who partook in a five-day fact-finding mission to Israel and the West Bank organized by The Israel Project (TIP). They met with various Israel political leaders and visited Israeli innovation companies and agricultural centers.

Israel and Kenya also maintain strong economic and diplomatic ties.

The countries share an interest in agriculture – particularly since both countries have semi-arid climates – and medicine, and Israel regularly trains Kenyan officials in these fields. Under the tutelage of MASHAV, Israel’s Center for International Cooperation, Kenyan trainees are flown to Israel to learn about Israel’s expertise in agricultural technology, or agrotech.

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