Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enters a security cabinet meeting, August 2017.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Opting to send a signal of “business as usual,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu avoided the topic of the police investigations against him at the start of Sunday’s cabinet meeting, opting instead to focus on his diplomatic achievements in Africa.
Rather than make any mention of Ari Harow, his former chief of staff who on Friday agreed to turn state’s witness, Netanyahu began the weekly meeting by saying that he will host Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbé on Monday, the third visit of the African leader to Israel in a year.
“Among other things, I will speak with him about the Africa-Israel summit that Togo is to host in another two months,” Netanyahu said. “This will be my third visit to Africa in little over a year, first in East Africa, and then in West Africa, and now at an economic-technology summit for the countries of Africa with a clear goal: to bring Israel back to Africa in a big way.”
Netanyahu said this was not happening without opposition.
“Various pressure is being placed on Togo’s president to cancel the summit, and this is the best testimony to the success of Israel’s presence in Africa,” he said.
As The Jerusalem Post first reported last week, the Palestinian Authority and Morocco were both working to upend the summit, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meeting Gnassingbé at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa last month and urging him to reconsider holding the summit.
Iran has also weighed in the issue, with the Post learning on Sunday that during a meeting in November between Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Togo’s Foreign Minister Robert Dussey in Tehran, Zarif pressed Togo to drop the summit. The two men met again on Saturday in Tehran at the inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s second term, but it was not immediately clear whether the issue of the summit was raised.
Netanyahu said he will discuss with the Togolese president how Israel could further its inroads into Africa.
As further proof of the success of his Africa policy, Netanyahu pointed out that the small island state of Cape Verde off the west coast of Africa declared last week that it will no longer vote against Israel in UN institutions.
“This is important, and it attests to success,” he said.