Democratic Republic of Congo to send 1st ambassador to Israel in 20 years
Tshisekedi, who became president last year, credited his Christian faith and thanked American Evangelicals for their support for the Jewish state.
By AARON REICH
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Félix Tshisekedi announced on Sunday that he will appoint an ambassador to Israel for the first time in 20 years, AFP reported.Speaking at the annual AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, Tshisekedi said that "After more than 20 years of inadequate representation, I will name an ambassador in the coming days."Tshisekedi, who became president last year, credited his Christian faith for the decision, and thanked American Evangelicals for their support for the Jewish state.Israel "is a source of inspiration," he said. "It teaches us what man can do in such a short span of time when he has drive, resilience and, especially, divine grace and favor."The ambassador will be stationed in Tel Aviv, but a commercial section of the Congolese embassy will be based in Jerusalem.Currently, only the US and Guatemala have embassies in Jerusalem, recognizing the city as Israel's undivided capital.Israel once boasted warm ties with the DRC, when it was known as Zaire, under the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko, first restoring relations in 1982. This stood in contrast to most African states, who held less positive views of Israel due to alliances with Arab nations and the ties between Israel and apartheid South Africa.However, these ties deteriorated as Africa spiraled into war in the late 1990s and early 2000s during the First and Second Congo Wars. The last Israeli ambassador to Kinshasa left in 2003.In recent years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has worked hard to strengthen ties with many African states, and has succeeded in doing so with nations such as Chad. The DRC seems to be the latest such success, with Tshisekedi promising to visit Israel in 2020, being especially interested in Israeli scientific, technological and agricultural investment in his country.