Cape Verde Flag 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejoiced too soon: Cape Verde, it turns out, will continue to vote against Israel in international fora.
Cape Verde’s President Jorge Carlos Fonseca issued a statement late on Tuesday evening denying that – as Netanyahu said on two occasions over the last week – the small island state off the coast of West Africa had pledged not to vote against Israel at the UN.
According to a statement issued by Netanyahu’s office last week, the decision followed a meeting Netanyahu had two months ago with Fonseca on the sidelines of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) conference in Liberia. The premier even mentioned this development at the start of Sunday’s cabinet meeting, calling it “important” and evidence of the success of his Africa policy.
But Fonseca, in a statement issued by the presidential palace on Tuesday, denied any such agreement.
While acknowledging that he met Netanyahu at the ECOWAS conference in June, he said that the question of Cape Verde’s “voting processes in different international forums, as well as the mechanisms for their implementation, through representatives of Cape Verde, were not addressed, let alone discussed, since they imply an articulation between two sovereign bodies, according to each one’s competences.”
The long and rather convoluted statement said that Fonseca “attaches the greatest importance to Cape Verde’s international relations,” which are seen as crucial for the country’s development.
As such, according to the statement, the former Portuguese colony that gained independence in 1975 gives priority in its relations to the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, the EU, ECOWAS, the US, China, Brazil and Israel.
The statement said that during the meeting with Netanyahu in Monrovia, “several issues related to cooperation between the two countries, such as agriculture, energy, tourism and security were dealt with, and they reiterated their mutual interest in strengthening such links.”
Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said they believe that Fonesca’s about-face is the result of pressure placed on the country by Arabs who are ardently opposed to the inroads Israel was making in Africa.
As The Jerusalem Post first reported last week, Togo – which plans to host a first-ofits- kind Africa-Israel summit in October – has come under pressure from the Palestinian Authority and Morocco to scuttle the parley. Iran has also urged Togo not to hold the conference.
According to the sources, Israel’s ambassador to Senegal, Paul Hirschson – who is also responsible for Cape Verde – reported a number of months ago that a message was received from senior sources in the country saying that it will no longer vote against Israel in international fora. This was later confirmed by a number of reports in the Cape Verde press, the sources stated.
Cape Verde, an archipelago comprising some 10 islands, has a population of about 525,000.
The country generally has voted against Israel at the UN, though at times it has abstained or absented itself from votes on Israel-related issues.
For instance, it was not present in the General Assembly vote in 2009 accepting the Goldstone Report which accused Israel of war crimes in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead; it abstained in the UNESCO vote in 2011 to accept “Palestine” as a member state; and it voted against Israel in 2012, when it voted in favor of granting the Palestinians the status of a nonmember observer state in the UN.