Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Rwanda President Paul Kagame.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDON / GPO)
Transforming the African countries into a voting bloc that would support Israel could help create an automatic pro-Israel majority at the United Nations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday.
He spoke about the importance of Africa in a Jerusalem meeting with Israeli ambassadors to that continent.
Israel has 11 embassies in Africa, as well as a number of nonresident ambassadors.
“There are 54 countries [in Africa]. If you change the voting pattern of a majority of them, you at once bring them from one side to the other,” he said as he spoke with them about his strategy for eroding the Palestinian automatic majority at the UN.
“You have changed the balance of votes against us at the UN and the day is not far off when we will have a majority there. This sounds delusional? It is not delusional at all,” he said.
Netanyahu has focused, particularly in the last year, on improving Israeli-African ties. In 2016, he was the first sitting prime minister since 1987 to visit sub-Saharan Africa, stopping in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
“The pyramid of our foreign policy interests in Africa is as high as it has ever been, except perhaps in the 1960s. I want to say what our interest is,” he said.
Already, Netanyahu explained, the voting pattern of African countries was changing, in that there were now more likely to choose to abstain from anti-Israel votes, rather than support them.
“Africa has moved to an intermediate stage, that of abstention,” he said.
In the fall, three African countries – Togo, Guinea and Ghana – changed from support to abstention when it voting on a resolution at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization that ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
While Israel is very interested in strengthening its economic ties with Africa, the diplomatic one is more important. African countries also play an important role in helping Israel fight terrorism, he said.
But most the most important goal is to change the voting pattern at the UN.
“We want to erode the opposition and change it to support,” he said.