Danny Ayalon 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon will travel to Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia
on Sunday and inaugurate two high-profile projects.
The initiatives come
as Israel is keen on deepening its ties with strategically valuable countries in
the greater Horn of Africa region.
In Kenya, Ayalon will launch a joint
program, along with German’s Minister for Economic Cooperate and Development
Dirk Niebel, to rehabilitate contaminated regions adjacent to Lake
And in Uganda, he will inaugurate an Israeli-established trauma
center at a hospital in Kampala.
The projects, according to Avi Granot,
deputy director-general of the Africa division in the Foreign Ministry, are part
of efforts by Israel to significantly improve relations with various African
countries that are increasingly looking to Israel for guidance on how to secure
their borders and combat Islamic terrorism.
Granot said that hardly a
week passes without high-level visitors from Africa – be they presidents,
ministers or top governmental officials. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
postponed a trip to Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan that was scheduled for earlier
this summer, but – according to government officials – is trying to reschedule
it for early next summer.
Granot said that two processes were under way
in African leading to a distinct warming of ties between Israel and a number of
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The first, he said, was democratization, stabilization
and economic development taking place in countries such as Ghana, Botswana,
Ethiopia, the Ivory Coast, Togo, and even Rwanda. These countries are interested
in Israeli expertise and investments in all spheres, from energy to agriculture,
health and infrastructure development.
The other process at work, Granot
said, has to do with Arab Spring, and the upheavals in North African,
particularly in Libya.
There is not a country in Africa without an
Islamic population, he said. And there is a concern in sub- Saharan Africa of a
spread of Islamic radicalism. Furthermore, he said, the fall of Muammar Gaddafi
in Libya led to the “leakage” of a massive amount of weapons not only to the
Gaza Strip, but also to sub-Saharan states as well.
Granot said the
Foreign Ministry on Thursday held an intensive discussion on the situation in
Mali, where Islamic radicals have essentially taken over two-thirds of the
country. The situation in Mali is worrying its neighbors and other states in
Africa that, Granot said, are coming to Jerusalem on a regular basis interested
in hearing Israel’s assessments of what is happening in the Arab world, as well
as sharing information and learning about how to secure their
“In African eyes Israel has dealt phenomenally well with Islamic
terrorism, and they want to learn from our experience,” he said. Granot said
that in addition to an interest in intelligence cooperation, numerous African
states are interested in hearing how Israel analyzes the situation, because
often times they don’t have the same capability as Israel to assess what is
happening in the Arab world.
The area where Ayalon is traveling, as well
as other Horn of Africa countries of Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti, are
especially significant for Israel, he said. Not only do Israeli planes fly over
those countries on their way east, and Israeli ships pass by those countries on
their way out of the Red Sea, but the region is also turning into an area where
Iran is looking for influence, partly as a way of tightening the vise around
Granot denied that African migrant issue in Israel is straining
relations with the Horn of Africa countries, saying that Africa itself is
dealing with a massive migrant problem, with an estimated 20 million migrants
throughout the continent.
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