PM says his diplomatic blitz aims to ‘crack’ anti-Israel votes

Netanyahu tells his Likud faction that meeting with Egyptian FM ‘symbolizes important warming’ of ties with Cairo

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Ethiopian parliament in Addis Ababa, on July 7, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Ethiopian parliament in Addis Ababa, on July 7, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that his recent flurry of diplomatic efforts was aimed at “cracking” the automatic majority against Israel in votes by international bodies.

Netanyahu told a Likud faction that Jerusalem was engaged in “comprehensive efforts” to expand ties with nations on five continents. He mentioned signing new “far-reaching” accords with China, India, Japan and Korea, closer relations with “Cyprus, Greece and now Turkey,” as well as efforts to court “Latin American nations” and African countries in his recent “very important visit” to the region.

He also told the party’s lawmakers that his meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry a day earlier “symbolizes an important warming between Israel and Egypt.”

Speaking of his four-country African tour last week, Netanyahu said it advanced Israel’s bid to secure more support at the United Nations.

“You have to understand that the automatic majority in international forums relies primarily on the bloc of African countries, and to a certain extent on the bloc of Latin American countries,” he said.

“To the extent that we succeed in cracking that, it changes our international standing with a variety of forums that make decisions regarding the State of Israel and the IDF.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry after giving a joint statement prior to their meeting at his Jerusalem office on July 10, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/GALI TIBBON)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, shakes hands with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry after giving a joint statement prior to their meeting at his Jerusalem office on July 10, 2016. (AFP Photo/Gali Tibbon)

Shoukry paid a rare visit to Israel on Sunday, meeting with Netanyahu in Jerusalem in an apparent effort to further Egypt’s fresh efforts to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi reportedly offered to host direct talks between Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The tripartite summit, which would also be attended by senior officials from Jordan and Egypt, would seek to engage in confidence-building measures in an effort to calm the 10-month surge in violence in the West Bank, Palestinian officials told both the pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper and Israel’s Haaretz daily.

Shoukry’s visit to Israel was the first by an Egyptian foreign minister since 2007. Media reports indicated that preparations were in full swing for a trip by Netanyahu to Egypt for talks with Sissi later this year.

The Shoukry visit came amid chatter over the renewal of an Arab peace initiative and as Israel’s military recently saluted “unprecedented” intelligence cooperation with Egypt to combat the Islamic State group.

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

The prime minister returned on Friday from a four-day diplomatic visit to Africa aimed at boosting ties.

Netanyahu visited Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia, where he discussed increased cooperation with local leaders, including on matters of technology and security.

“It might take a decade, but we will change the automatic majority against Israel. That’s something that has never been possible in the past,” Netanyahu told Israeli press during his visit.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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