Lapid vows to deepen partnerships with African countries: ‘Israel is back in Africa’

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a ceremony honoring staff of the "Shining Star" field hospital that Israel operated in western Ukraine, May 29, 2022. (Screen capture: GPO)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a ceremony honoring staff of the "Shining Star" field hospital that Israel operated in western Ukraine, May 29, 2022. (Screen capture: GPO)

Emphasizing that “Israel is back in Africa,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid lays out several broad goals for the future of Israel’s partnership with African countries.

“We will cooperate to deliver food security for millions,” says Lapid, speaking by videolink to a conference organized by Israel’s embassy in Paris.

“We will coordinate in the fight against terrorism to ensure peace and stability. We will collaborate in high-tech to create opportunities for millions of Israelis and Africans alike. We will cultivate deeper diplomatic ties to cement our historic and deeply-rooted partnership.”

The Paris conference on Israel-Africa ties has attracted several French and African media outlets, and is attended by a number of African diplomats.

Israel enjoyed a golden age in its ties with African countries in the 1950s and 1960s, as it offered agricultural aid to sub-Saharan nations that were also taking their first steps after throwing off colonial rule. Relationships crumbled after the 1967 and 1973 wars, as most African countries cut off diplomatic relations.

Today, Israel has diplomatic ties with all but 9 of the 54 African countries, and new wind has been blown into the sails of Israel’s diplomacy on the continent by the efforts of the Benjamin Netanyahu governments and by the signing of the Abraham Accords.

Israel, one of only two non-African nations to share a border with Africa, became an observer to the African Union in 2021.

Now, Israel says, it is seeking a partnership between equals, not an aid relationship.

“Israel understands the power of Africa,” says Lapid. “And Africa understands that Israel is a force for good.”

“In the face of global challenges, countries that cooperative will thrive, while countries that isolate will fall behind,” he declares.

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