Boasting of diplomatic prowess, PM calls Azerbaijan ‘Afghanistan’
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Boasting of diplomatic prowess, PM calls Azerbaijan ‘Afghanistan’

Netanyahu jokes he may head to Kabul in next term, after speculation he revealed secret trip during campaign speech

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech launching his Likud party's election campaign in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan on March 4, 2019. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech launching his Likud party's election campaign in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan on March 4, 2019. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Tomato, tomatoe? Afghanistan, Azerbaijan?

In a campaign speech Monday to supporters from his Likud Party, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted of Israel’s diplomatic successes under his watch, name checking a series of countries and capitals he has visited.

“When I meet with world leaders in Beijing, Tokyo, Rio De Janiero and New Delhi. In Chad, Oman, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Australia and Singapore … I am filled with pride to represent you and all the citizens of Israel,” he said.

Netanyahu’s mention of Afghanistan raised eyebrows, as the country has no diplomatic ties with Israel.

Though it was not immediately clear, as he continued to speak, whether his mention of Afghanistan was a slip of the tongue or intentional, some news outlets reported that Netanyahu had appeared to reveal a dramatic piece of information.

Netanyahu has boasted of making inroads with the Arab and Muslim world, including trips to Oman and Chad, but a trip to Afghanistan, where Israel is extremely unpopular, would border on the fantastical.

And indeed, it was. After finishing his speech, the prime minister issued a clarification: “I meant Azerbaijan, but who knows? Maybe in the next term,” Netanyahu wrote on his personal Twitter account.

This is not the first time Netanyahu has had trouble keeping his political geography straight. In December, he mentioned his wife was on a state trip to Nicaragua, when she was in fact in Guatemala.

Netanyahu is also not the first Israeli to sub in Afghanistan for another country. In 2016, then-opposition chief Isaac Herzog congratulated Portugal on its Euro soccer tourney win by tweeting a flag of Afghanistan.

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