Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Monday, 29 February 2016), at the Knesset, attended the launch of the Knesset Caucus for Israel-Africa Relations, which was initiated by MK Dr. Avraham Naguisa. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, MKs and African ambassadors were also in attendance. The Prime Minister spoke with the ambassadors, all of whom invited him to visit their countries.
Prime Minister Netanyahu: "Israel is coming back to Africa; Africa is coming back to Israel. It's happening in a big way. It's happening now, but it should have happened a long time ago. It's happening now because it's so clear that this is good for Africa and it's good for Israel. We face a multitude of challenges and opportunities. Both as Prime Minister and as Foreign Minister, we are making a deliberate, what I call African strategy, and I've received an invitation from the President of Kenya and from others to come and visit Africa.
I intend to do so around the 40th anniversary of the raid at Entebbe that was for us a very dramatic national experience. For me, obviously, one of great personal consequence, but we view that as an opportunity to give practical meaning to what I said before: Israel is coming back to Africa; Africa is coming back to Israel.
And in fact, what I'd like to see, given this new reality, given the confluence of interests - that means the meeting of the minds, the meeting of the minds and the meeting of hearts. Now we understand that we have these two great things before us: overcoming the dark forces of militant Islamic terrorism and seizing the opportunities of the future with technology and everything else we can bring to bear. What I'd like to see is the closeness of our relationship reflected also in the voting pattern of the African Union.
I would like to eventually get to that point with the African Union, because you should vote for the interests of your own countries and you should vote for the interests of Africa. And I have no doubt whatsoever that today the interests of Africa and the interests of Israel cohere. They're almost identical, and in some respects and in many respects they are identical. So, I want to see that reflected in our bilateral relationship and also in our multilateral relationship. And as I said, Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel, and I intend to make good at it by literally coming to Africa. For too long you have come here and we have not come there, and we are going to change that.
The greatest challenge we face together - the entire world faces - is the surge of militant Islamist extremism and the terrorism that it espouses. It threatens every land in Africa. In my opinion, it threatens the entire globe. Its nexus is in the Middle East, but it is rapidly spreading.
It can be defeated. It can only be defeated if the nations that are attacked by it, make common cause. We understand the dangers of Al-Shabab. We understand the dangers of the other militancies that threaten your countries in Africa, and we are prepared to work with you to defeat them. And it is possible to do so.
I think that many countries from Africa, and may I say not only from Africa, are coming to Israel because of a demonstrated capacity to stand up to the forces of militant Islam, do battle with them, roll them back. And we are prepared to put our expertise at your disposal. That's the first reason that there has been such a marked change in the appreciation of Africa and Israel to one another.
Israel is ready to help in every way - in agriculture, in health care, in water, in irrigation, in science, in technology, in investment, tourism, cyber. Every country can be brought to its knees today if it doesn't have adequate cyber protection, just the basic services that you have - communications, banking, airlines and so on. And Israel is now a world power in cyber security and my policy is to make some of our experience available to our friends. We consider you great friends. So we want to be able to cooperate with you in these two fields: fighting the forces of terror and seizing the opportunities of tomorrow. And they go hand in hand."
Cameroonian Ambassador Henri Etoundi Essomba, the dean of the African Diplomatic Corps in Israel, noted that Netanyahu ”is one of the first Israeli leaders to open, with full force, a small window between Africa and Israel.”
Kenya's ambassador to Israel, Augostino S.K. Njoroge, said President Uhuru Kenyatta's recent visit to Israel was his most successful official visit to a foreign country, adding that Kenya was looking forward to strengthening its relations with Israel.
Ruben Marial Benjamin, South Sudan’s first ambassador to Israel, urged PM Netanyahu to visit his country, saying such a visit ”could unite the torn tribes, bring peace and end the bloodshed.” The South Sudanese people ”love Israel,” he stated.
Jean-Baptiste Gomis, the Ivory Coast's ambassador to Israel, also invited PM Netanyahu to visit his country.