WASHINGTON – The international development agencies in Israel and America signed a memorandum of understanding Wednesday to increase cooperation on food aid to Africa.

The MOU between USAID and Mashav (the Israel Agency for International Development Cooperation in the Foreign Ministry) was the first of its kind, according to Mashav head Daniel Carmon, though he stressed that “this MOU is not the start of the relationship; it’s the continuing and the strengthening of the relationship.”

Though the US and Israel have both long provided development assistance in Africa, the MOU allows for closer cooperation on the issue of food security in four countries: Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda. The assistance will include help with food production and crop cycles, as well as addressing environmental issues that go beyond the agricultural sector, Carmon said.

It also ties Israel more tightly into the issue of fighting for food security and other major issues on the global development agenda.

Carmon noted that development – alongside diplomacy and security – was one of the pillars of Israel’s foreign policy and said that increasing cooperation with USAID was not only “the right thing to do but the smart thing to do.”

He added that having an project emblazoned with both American and Israel flags sends an important signal beyond both countries’ shores.

“It’s a very strong message between ourselves, and a very strong message to the developing world,” he said.

Carmon came to Washington to a attended the MOU signing ceremony Wednesday. The event was closed to the press soon before the ceremony began after press had initially been invited.

A member of the USAID press office said the decision to shut out press was due to a last-minute USAID staffing issue and attributed the change to “poor planning.”

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