Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Thursday, 7 July 2016), began his visit to Ethiopia. He was welcomed at the national palace by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn along with an honor guard and national anthems.
The two prime ministers held a private meeting followed by an expanded meeting with their delegations. The delegations discussed ways to increase bilateral cooperation on a long series of issues including water, agriculture, communications, tourism and education. Agreements were signed in science, technology and tourism.
Prime Minister Netanyahu then met with Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome, who – after their meeting – invited the Prime Minister to observe the lion and lioness in the palace garden.
Prime Minister Netanyahu made the following remarks at the joint statement with Ethiopian Prime Minister Desalegn:
"Prime Minister, I want to thank you first for your hospitality and the warm reception you have accorded me and my delegation on this visit to Ethiopia. You said in a meeting we've just had with our counterparts, with our respected delegations, you said something that I think puts a fine point to everything. You said Israel has a special place in Ethiopia and Ethiopia has a special place in Israel. And that's absolutely true. In fact, it goes back 3,000 years to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and I suggest that we don't wait another 3,000 years to cement this extraordinary relationship.
I am personally very proud to be the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit Ethiopia I think in over 30 years, we are not waiting even 30 years. We are committed to enhancing our partnership and our friendship in concrete ways. This is not just a one shot thing. It's not just statements. It is a plan for concrete cooperation in areas that are important for both our peoples. The first and most important one is the one that you raised which is agriculture, water, livestock, crops, very concrete areas in which you Prime Minister Hailemariam have a great expertise coming from the most elementary element which is water, and Israel has great expertise in the same area.
But in the other associated fields as well, we want some integrated teams that are working on a government to government level but also the businesses that have created their own abilities in this field, proven abilities, in Israel and worldwide to work with you and Ethiopian companies. This is a commitment. And we're launching this ship in many ways, launching it today with renewed momentum in this meeting of our businesspeople.
The second area is, the other areas of digitization, which means IT, space, education, digitized medicine and all the other areas that are opening up, changing the world, in which Israel would like to participate with you as you develop your country and your society.
There is of course an area that we'd all would have preferred that we wouldn't have to cooperate in but it's this battle against the forces of terror that are plaguing the continent of Africa, the continent of Europe, the Middle East, the world. And in this we have acquired of necessity skills and expertise that we think are important for our common battle for the triumph of civilization over barbarism. And this is something that we share with other African countries, with many countries now across the world. And I think that the effort to secure our security is something that also connects us together.
Finally, I want to say that I'm absolutely delighted with the fact that the cooperation that we have with Ethiopia, the cooperation that we have with so many other African countries is congealing and consolidating for a recognition that all African countries, all of them without exception, can benefit from a renewed cooperation with Israel. I've said before and I'll say it again: Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel. And we appreciate deeply your support and the support of the East African countries for Israel's return as an observer to the African Union. We believe in Africa. We believe that Africa has a vast potential. We would like to be part of your success story. And I thank you one again for a wonderful meeting, a memorable meeting, I think a historic meeting. Thank you Prime Minister."
In response to a question, Prime Minister Netanyahu said:
"I am proud of Ethiopian Jews' contribution in Israel. They constitute a living link with Ethiopia and Africa. It starts with our Ambassador who is here and also the fact that I brought MKs Neguise and Tamanu-Shata who represent this link.
To answer your question, of course I want to utilize Israeli citizens who came from Africa to strengthen ties and I am checking on our part in order to find appropriate possibilities and opportunities.
I raised the issue of Avra Mangisto with the Ethiopian Prime Minister and I requested his assistance on the matter. We always raise the issue of our citizens at various opportunities including here, of course.
Regarding the immigration to Israel of those members of the community who are here, we are doing so. We have a commitment and we are honoring it on a humanitarian and family reunification basis. This will be carried out under this budget. We are obligated and we are dealing with it."