South Sudan Israel flags 311.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Israel and South Sudan formally established diplomatic relations on Thursday,
some two weeks after the new country declared independence from Sudan, a radical
Islamic state and one of the most hostile countries to Israel in
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced the establishment of
ties, issuing a statement saying “the cooperation between the two countries will
be based on solid foundations, relations of equality and mutual
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A parallel announcement was made in Juba, the new country’s
capital, where the president of the new country, Salva Kiir, met with Jacques
Revach, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Africa division, and Dan Shacham,
Israel’s nonresident ambassador to a number of African countries.
nature of the relations, including the appointment of ambassadors, will be
discussed in the coming days, the Foreign Ministry said in a
Just three days after South Sudan declared independence on
July 9, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke to Kiir and said Israel would be
happy to help the fledgling country in “any way.”
Israel recognized the
new country on July 10.
A number of revelers in Juba celebrating
independence waved Israeli flags, a gesture interpreted by some as a sign of
gratitude to Israel for support during years of struggle against the north.
About 8,000 Sudanese migrants, many of them from South Sudan, are believed to be
in Israel. One of the first topics of discussion between the two countries is
likely to be the repatriation of many of these refuge-seekers.
diplomatic developments, Netanyahu met on Thursday with Tonio Borg, the foreign
minister of Malta, an EU country that had a markedly unfriendly attitude toward
Israel in the 1970s and 1980s, but with which ties have improved significantly
over the past few months.
Malta’s Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi was to
have been the first prime minister in that country’s history to visit Israel
earlier this year, but canceled his trip because of the crisis in nearby Libya.
Borg invited Netanyahu to be the first Israeli prime minister to visit
One diplomatic source who sat in on the meeting with Borg said he
did not get the impression that Malta was going to support the Palestinians in their bid for statehood recognition at the UN in
“We are on a very different trajectory with Malta now,” the
official said, likening the improvement in ties with that country to similar
upgrades with Greece and Cyprus following the deterioration of relations with
While Malta was one of only five of the EU’s 27 countries to vote
in 2009 in favor of adopting the Goldstone Commission report on Operation Cast
Lead, the official said that following Thursday’s meeting the impression was
that “they would not now support a one-sided resolution.”