Netanyahu to reportedly visit Uganda next week

Netanyahu to reportedly visit Uganda next week

PM’s office refuses to confirm or deny report on trip to African country, which would come on heels of his visits to US, Russia

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech after his arrival at Entebbe airport, Uganda, Monday, July 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Stephen Wandera)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech after his arrival at Entebbe airport, Uganda, Monday, July 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Stephen Wandera)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will reportedly travel to Uganda next week, just days after returning from Washington and Moscow.

According to a Ynet report Wednesday, Netanyahu will take off for Uganda on Monday.

The news site did not say how long the trip will be or what the purpose is.

The Prime Minister’s Office refused to confirm or deny the report.

Benjamin Netanyahu, right, with his wife Sara Netanyahu, boarding a plane to the US, at Ben-Gurion Airport, on February 13, 2017. (Avi Ohayun/GPO)

Netanyahu visited Uganda in 2016 to mark 40 years since his brother was killed in an anti-terror raid at an airport in Entebbe.

In 2018, Israel sought a deal to send African migrants in Israel to Uganda, but the efforts broke down without an agreement. At a campaign event earlier this month, Netanyahu vowed to deport the “infiltrators” still in Israel.

“We’re also working on this. Soon you’ll hear news,” he said.

The reported trip to Uganda would come weeks before the March 2 elections in Israel and on the heels of high-profile visits to the United States and Russia.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu appeared alongside US President Donald Trump at the White House for the rollout of the administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, which the premier has billed as the most pro-Israel proposal ever.

After the plan’s release, Netanyahu vowed to move forward with applying Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and West Bank settlements before the elections, but on Wednesday the US ambassador to Israel David Friedman said the move may take time.

US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participate in a joint statement in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, on January 28, 2020. (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images/AFP)

Netanyahu was set to arrive Thursday in Moscow, where he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to update him on the US peace plan.

The prime minister’s visit to the Russian capital coincides with Putin’s pardon of Naama Issachar, an Israeli-American who was jailed in Russia on drug charges.

Issachar had become a cause célèbre in Israel, where her arrest and 7.5 year sentence were largely viewed as politically motivated. Netanyahu promised the family to work for her release and has expressed hopes for securing a pardon.

Israeli Naama Issachar gestures during an appeal hearings in a courtroom in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. (AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr.)

Issachar’s release could boost Netanyahu’s popularity ahead of the upcoming elections, the third in less than a year after the prime minister failed to form a government in the previous two rounds of voting. The announcement Tuesday by the Prime Minister’s Office of the trip to Russia came less than an hour after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit filed an indictment against Netanyahu for charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust with the Jerusalem District Court.

Netanyahu denies wrongdoing and has claimed the charges are an effort by political rivals the media and investigators to boot him from office.

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