Netanyahu looks to boost security coordination with Ethiopia
search

Netanyahu looks to boost security coordination with Ethiopia

Premier introduces visiting counterpart, Abiy Ahmed, to mother of Avera Mengistu, an Israeli of Ethiopian origin who has been in Hamas captivity for five years

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speak at a press conference at the Prime Minister's Office on September 1, 2019. (Amos Ben Gershom/PMO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speak at a press conference at the Prime Minister's Office on September 1, 2019. (Amos Ben Gershom/PMO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called for strengthened security cooperation with Ethiopia, during a meeting in Jerusalem with his Ethiopian counterpart, Abiy Ahmed.

“We believe that we can offer some experience, some shared experience that we have garnered because of our unfortunate need to defend ourselves,” Netanyahu told Ahmed, according to a statement from Netanyahu’s office.

He hailed the prime minister of the Horn of Africa country as “one of the most important and influential leaders in Africa.”

In the 1960s, some African nations distanced themselves from Israel due to the Jewish state’s wars with its Arab neighbors and its links with the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Netanyahu has been looking to forge warmer ties with African nations, partly to garner support at international institutions where Israel is often criticized for its treatment of the Palestinians.

In 2016, he made the first visit of an Israeli head of government to Ethiopia, seat of the African Union.

(From L-R) Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Hamas captive Avera Mengistu’s mother Agarnesh and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on September 1, 2019. (Amos Ben Gershom/PMO)

Daniel Benaim, a former adviser to US president Barack Obama, said Israel is seeking “to deny Iran a foothold on the African side of the Red Sea from which it could transship weapons into Gaza and beyond.”

For its part, “Ethiopia sees a potential security partner and source of investment and innovation,” he added.

The second most populous country on the continent, with some 100 million inhabitants, Ethiopia boasts the most dynamic economy in East Africa while still being one of the poorest countries in the world.

There are over 140,000 Israeli citizens with Ethiopian origins, more than 50,000 of them born in Israel.

These nationals “bring the culture of Ethiopia, the pride of Ethiopia to Israel, just as they maintain the culture of the Jewish people and the pride of the Jewish people in Ethiopia,” Netanyahu said on Sunday.

In July, Ethiopian-Israelis held days of nationwide protests after a police officer killed teenager Solomon Tekah, with members of the community saying it was emblematic of the racism they face in society on a daily basis and ongoing discriminatory treatment at the hands of the police.

Several prominent members of the community were invited to meet Ahmed, according to Netanyahu’s office.

They included the mother of Avera Mengistu, an Israeli of Ethiopian origin who is thought to have been held hostage for five years by Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip.

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Become a member of The Times of Israel Community
read more:
comments