Netanyahu establishes fund to boost developing countries’ support — report

New program said set to distribute $50 million in aid among 50 countries in Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with African leaders in Uganda on July 4, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with African leaders in Uganda on July 4, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly established a fund to invest in developing countries that support Israel on the international stage.

According to a report Wednesday by Hadashot TV news, the fund, dubbed “50 on 50,” is set to distribute $50 million in government funding among 50 countries.

Each country will receive an aid package based on its individual needs, in various areas including tech, water desalination, agriculture and leadership development, the report said.

Netanyahu has long touted Israel’s technological and defense prowess as both an incentive to attract new support – especially in United Nations votes – and a lever with which to pressure countries that already benefit from cooperation with the Jewish state.

He has invested great efforts to look beyond Israel’s traditional allies in Washington and Western Europe and cultivate ties with developing nations that have traditionally been supportive of the Palestinians.

He has portrayed those efforts as both a savvy strategy aimed at opening new markets for Israeli technology exports, and a means of countering what Israel says is a deep-seated bias against it at the UN.

In 2017, the prime minister crisscrossed the globe: He was in twice in Africa — in Liberia and Kenya — and became the first sitting Israeli premier to go to Latin America, Australia and Singapore.

He also flew to New York, Moscow, Beijing, Budapest and other places where he could focus on promoting Israel as a rising power, a startup nation that has much to offer to the world.

Especially in Africa, many leaders see in Netanyahu primarily a strong leader whose country has much to contribute in terms of development aid, technological innovation and security know-how.

The Foreign Ministry, where Netanyahu holds sway as both premier and foreign minister, has mapped out potential candidate countries for aid, from Africa to Eastern Europe and Asia, Wednesday’s report said.

It said he intends to include the project in the coming budget and has instructed the director of the Foreign Ministry to start planning based on existing funds in the state coffer.

The Prime Minister’s Office told Hadashot that it was a relatively minor investment that, in an interest-driven world, could yield a major shift in support for Israel in the coming decade.

AP contributed to this report.

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