Netanyahu announces first-ever visit of an Israeli PM to Fiji

PM also plans trips to Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Singapore, Australia and West Africa in bid to combat UN’s automatic anti-Israel majority

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with visiting Fiji Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, in Jerusalem, November 7, 2016. (Ohad Zwigenberg)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with visiting Fiji Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, in Jerusalem, November 7, 2016. (Ohad Zwigenberg)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday announced an upcoming trip to the Republic of Fiji, which he explained as part of an ongoing bid to bolster Israel’s standing in international forums such as the United Nations.

“Why am I going to Fiji? Because fifteen countries, fifteen islands that each one has a vote in the UN are coming to that meeting,” Netanyahu said, without elaborating.

Addressing American Jewish leaders via videoconference, Netanyahu indicated that his trip to the tiny island nation — which has some 910,000 inhabitants, slightly more than Jerusalem — will take place in the framework of his planned visit to Singapore and Australia in February.

No sitting Israeli prime minister has ever visited any of these countries.

“I’m telling you that it will be no more than a decade, and possibly a lot sooner, that the automatic majority against Israel in the UN will collapse, and Israel will actually find a fair hearing there. Now It’s not going to happen tomorrow. But it’ll happen, and sooner rather than later.”

[mappress mapid=”5981″]

Fiji, which is located 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) northeast of New Zealand, has provided troops to UN peacekeeping operations on the Israeli-Syrian border and in Lebanon, in the Golan Heights and in Egypt and Iraq, since 1978.

Earlier this month, Netanyahu hosted Fijian Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama in Jerusalem and thanked him for his country’s support for Israel in multilateral organizations.

“There is a bond between our two peoples. We’re not gigantic peoples but we aim big and we are glad that we have the opportunity to cooperate with you in a variety of efforts,” Netanyahu said.

“As Fijians, we have always regarded the people of Israel as friends, as very good friends, just as we do the citizens of its neighbors,” Bainimarama said. “We are here to help, we are here to keep the peace and that commitment will continue now and in the years ahead.”

In December, Netanyahu will also visit Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, two Muslim-majority countries. He also said he plans a trip to West Africa “soon.”

Speaking to the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly in Washington, DC, Netanyahu also addressed concerns that the outgoing US administration could back a UN Security Council resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“If you try to impose peace from the outside it never works,” Netanyahu said. “It’s important to understand that the reason we’ll object to such efforts is that a) it will harden the Palestinian positions and b) it will harden the Palestinian positions, it will push peace back. It could push peace back decades.”

Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan weathered many storms because they were the results of direct bilateral relations and were not imposed from the outside.

“The only way you really get a workable and enduring peace is one that both parties agree to,” the prime minister said.

“There may possibilities that emerge in the Middle East as result of the different appreciation that many in the region have for Israel’s role in resisting the twin forces of militant Islam led by Iran and ISIS,” he continued. “And that may open up the prospects for peace and probably will help us move toward some kind of resolution with the Palestinians.But one thing is certain: trying to impose peace from the outside won’t.”

Netanyahu said he hopes that outgoing US President Barack Obama will adhere to his declared policy of opposing one-sided resolutions at the Security Council.

“I look forward also to working with President-elect Donald Trump, when he becomes president, and his administration, to further the twin interests of peace and security,” Netanyahu said.

Most Popular
read more: