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Israel's African Allies
PA Scrambles to Keep Up with Israel in Africa

One of the most important diplomatic stories in the world continues to unfold, as Israel’s outreach to Africa bears new fruit. The Jerusalem Post reports:

Israel is continuing to make inroads into Africa, as Chad – which has suddenly found itself on the front lines in the battle against Islamic extremists – is expected to be the next majority-Muslim African state to reestablish ties with Jerusalem, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Guinea and Israel announced the reestablishment of ties on Wednesday, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who visited four East African countries earlier this month – said that another African country would soon follow suit.[..]

The Post reported earlier this month that delegations from Chad and Mali, both in sub-Saharan Africa, were in Israel recently. Chad, like Guinea, is a member of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation.[..]

Meanwhile, Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbé is scheduled to arrive for a visit next month, as Netanyahu is interested in going to West Africa in the near future, and holding a summit with countries there similar to the one he held this month in Uganda with the leaders of seven East African countries. Gnassingbé is considered a candidate to be a driving force behind putting together such a summit.

As we have been covering, Israel’s rapprochement with a growing list of African nations is driven by several factors: the appeal of Israeli water technology, Israel’s need for new friends in international fora (especially the UN) to counterbalance the increasingly hostile Europeans, and the growth of Christianity in Africa. But perhaps the biggest of all is the increased threat of jihadi terror in Africa, which makes Israel’s security expertise appealing. This seems to have factored significantly into the decision of several majority-Muslim states to warm to Israel.

The Palestinians are not happy, and they are pushing back:

But while African countries seem to be warming up to Israel, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki announced this week that the PA and Sudan were coordinating to “restrain Israeli movements” in Africa.

“President Mahmoud Abbas and his Sudanese counterpart, Omar al-Bashir, discussed developing a strategy for the African continent and coordinating to restrain Israeli attempts to make a breakthrough in Africa,” the PA foreign minister told a group of journalists in Khartoum.

On Saturday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Kigali, Rwanda, to deliver an address to the 27th Summit of the African Union. He continued on to Khartoum, where he signed a number of agreements with Sudan, one of which establishes a mechanism for political consultations between the PA and Sudanese governments.

Abbas’s trip to Rwanda came just two weeks after Netanyahu visited the country as part of a tour of Africa, the first by an Israeli prime minister in nearly 30 years, and is understood to be an attempt by the PA to slow the development of ties between Israel and African countries.

Abbas will not have trouble getting meetings, but he likely will have trouble reestablishing the taboo on Israel among African nations. For potential African partners, Israel is starting look like more of a “normal country,” no longer the “Jew among Nations.” This seems to be the result of a convergence of interests:

In addition, one senior official said, Israel’s close security ties with Egypt and Jordan – as well as well-known but under-the-radar contacts with Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf countries – have convinced many African countries that they no longer have to be worried about Arab pressure against developing ties with Israel, since the Arab states themselves have ties with Israel.

Both Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said as much publicly during press conferences with Netanyahu when he visited their countries earlier this month.

It is obvious, the official said, that Israel and many of the African states now share a common enemy in Islamist extremism, and the African states are interested in benefiting from Israel’s experience dealing with it.

Keep your eyes out for more smart diplomacy from Bibi. Israel is thinking outside the box and slowly but surely reordering the world map in its favor.

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  • adk

    First the Sunni Arab states, now Africa — thank you, president Obama, for making this possible!

    • JR

      When stuff like this happens it always reminds me of this Bible quote.
      Truly, O God of Israel, our Savior, you work in mysterious ways. – Isaiah 45:!5

      • f1b0nacc1

        God is an iron

      • Ellen

        Yes, and Bibi deserves some credit too. He has it in him to be a great statesman now that no one is forcing him to go through the motions of negotiating a peace treaty with Mr. Abbas. Related to this, Raed Omari in the Saudi newspaper Al Arabiyyah tearfully writes that Abbas has been silent now for months because he is frustrated. Please excuse me while I shed some crocodile tears. He is not merely frustrated, he must be terribly depressed. He is about to retire (or pass away, perhaps) and can easily foresee his legacy. A demoralized Palestinian public in the West Bank, a separate state in Gaza under his rival Hamas, increasing Israeli settlement in Area C of the West Bank and the likely annexation of this area sometime in 2017.

        And, mind you, he could have had a negotiated solution with 95% of the West Bank, a shared control of East Jerusalem and other goodies in 2008, if he had agreed to Olmert’s offer. Instead he held out for a better deal, and he is now going to see the Palestinian cause go down in flames entirely as the Sunni Arab world implodes, and the rest of the world loses interest. Wouldn’t you be depressed, if you were him.

        • JR

          Arab states only cared about Palestinians as a way to divert the attention from their own ineptitude. Now that they face growing threat from Iran, as well as need for Israeli tech in agriculture and water management, they are more than happy to throw Palestinians under the bus. The only people who really care are delusional Europeans, but they are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

  • GS

    What all these chads and togos could hope to get out of it is clear enough. What Israel could get out of it, is not.

    • JR

      I think Israel has nothing to lose from selling it’s agriculture and water technology to Chad’s and Tongo’s of the world. Even if it loses some money in the process, it generates a lot of goodwill in the process. Think back to Operation Entebbe. IT was only made possible by assistance from Kenya, which may or may not have been pressured by some moneyed Jewish interests. Just ask Hyman Roth, there is nothing wrong with making money for your partners.

      • GS

        @ JR: “I think Israel has nothing to lose from selling its agriculture and water technology” – But “selling” presupposes “getting paid for it”. And here we return to the same question: undoubtedly, that technology is valuable – but what could be a similarly valuable payment for it? More specifically, what of comparable value could be offered in return by chads and togos?

        • JR

          I think, and I could be wrong here, that some kind of payment is required. African countries do trade with the outside world and I assume they pay in dollars since their own currencies are too volatile. I suspect the same will be done here. But I think it’s important to see this as a chance to foster goodwill towards Israel in larger world community. From a strategic perspective, I feel that any move to diversify Israel’s revenue streams from EU is a good one. Sure, it’s a drop in a bucket, but gotta start somewhere.

          • GS

            I would not be looking for any goodwill from schnorrers, not seeing them or their goodwill as valuable. Besides, the notion of “gratitude” [per prince Kyomori Taira, it distinguishes a man from a beast] is largely unknown there. The strategic resources, on the other hand, could be of sufficient interest for a largely besieged country with significant military industry needs.

          • JR

            Dude, I’m a cheap Jewish dad, but an Israeli once convinced me to spend $25 on a aT-shirt. It was in Key West. Point is, they are savvy negotiators, those Israelis, I trust them.
            And I also admire Bibi. He is not afraid to put Israel’s interests front and center of his agenda. Imagine how much negative press he gets, but he still gets up every morning and goes to work to advance his country’s interests, against all enemies, foreign or domestic. I wish we had a leader like that in America.

          • GS

            Well, in my opinion, this Israeli effort is misdirected. And I am more hard-nosed, I do not pay $25 for a T-shirt. $8 maximum.

  • JR

    “Hyman Roth always makes money for his partners. One by one, our old friends are gone. Death — natural or not – prison — deported. Hyman Roth is the only one left, because he always made money for his partners. “

  • Gene

    “Abbas … signed a number of agreements with Sudan, one of which establishes a
    mechanism for political consultations between the PA and Sudanese
    governments.”

    First, what does this even mean? “A mechanism for political consultations”? Yeah, that sounds incredibly valuable.

    This is a no-brainer for African countries. Form a good relationship with Israel and you can get some positive things out of it that will help you, your country’s interests, and its citizens. Form a good relationship with the PA and you get … what exactly?

    • JR

      Plus it’s a good way to shut up the delusional Europeans who talk a big game about helping the less fortunate, while Israel actually goes out and does it.

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