NAIROBI - Breaking the automatic majority against Israel in international forums is one of Jerusalem’s strategic goals, and the current inroads being made into Africa goes a long way in that direction, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday evening.
Netanyahu made his comments aboard the plane flying him 50 minutes from Entebbe to Nairobi for the second day of his five day, four state east Africa swing.
Before leaving Uganda, Netanyahu held a three-hour summit – which he characterized as historic – with the leaders of seven east African nations: Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania.
These leaders came to the summit “on short notice” out of a respect for Israel, and also an appreciation that Israel is a strategic ally for them. It was worth noting, Netanyahu said, that they were strengthening these ties in broad daylight.
Netanyahu noted that when he drove from Entebbe the five minutes to the presidential palace nearby, some people lined the streets waving Israeli flags and cheering.
Netanyahu said he told the leaders he met that one person held up a sign that read, “Uganda needs Israel.”
“I said Israel also needs Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, all the countries,” Netanyahu said. “ We need that alliance, that alliance can gradually change – it will take time, it may take a decade -- the automatic majority against Israel. Something that has never been possible in the past.
The prime minister said his aim was to widen “our circle of ties. If we succeed in making inroads with the 54 countries of Africa, the automatic majority against Israel would fall by the wayside.”
Netanyahu noted that there is a trend among certain African states already to either vote with Israel or abstain on key international votes.
According to Netanyahu, the African countries have two basic interests in ties with Israel. The first is security, fighting terrorism; and the second is Israeli technology in the field of agriculture, water energy and health.
In his talks with the African leaders, Netanyahu said, he discussed both bilateral security cooperation, as well as multilateral cooperation.