Visiting Jerusalem, Liberian president vows to open embassy in Israel

Weah meets with Netanyahu, Herzog and Cohen as countries pledge to deepen cooperation; Liberian leader puts note in Western Wall, prays for soccer star son’s success

Liberian President George Weah meets Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in Jerusalem, July 4, 2023. (Miri Shimonovich/GPO)
Liberian President George Weah meets Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in Jerusalem, July 4, 2023. (Miri Shimonovich/GPO)

Liberian President George Weah told Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Tuesday that his nation planned to open an embassy in Israel.

Visiting Jerusalem, Weah also held meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog, along with a senior delegation that included ministers and senior officials from Liberia.

There was no official announcement of a date for the opening of the embassy, or whether it would be in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.

Last year, it was reported that Liberia planned to open a trade office in Jerusalem that would eventually become an embassy.

In his welcoming remarks to Weah, Cohen called Liberia “one of Israel’s biggest friends in Africa.”

The Liberian leader’s last official visit to Israel was in 2019 and the two countries share strong ties. There is extensive cooperation on energy, water and agriculture since the establishment of relations in 1983, and Israeli exports to Liberia have increased in recent years.

According to a statement released by Netanyahu’s office, the two leaders held a private meeting and then expanded discussions alongside officials.

“[They] discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties, especially in innovation, agriculture and making Israeli knowledge more accessible for the challenges facing Liberia,” read the statement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Liberia President George Weah, in Jerusalem, July 4, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Netanyahu also thanked Weah “for Liberia’s strong diplomatic support.”

In recent years, Israel has made a push to improve its relations with African countries, including Liberia.

Israel considers Liberia a key ally in Africa and also in international forums. Liberia has frequently voted alongside Israel at the United Nations and the African Union.

Earlier this year, an Israeli delegate to the African Union was expelled from the forum’s annual summit, despite Israel holding observer status. The union is deeply divided on Israel’s membership, and Jerusalem has relied on support from countries like Liberia.

Before meeting with Netanyahu and Cohen, Weah met with Herzog, whose office said the Israeli president “reiterated the importance of Israel’s Observer Status at the African Union.”

Herzog also addressed the issue of the Liberian embassy in Israel and told Weah it was ‘important’ in order to “greatly increase the opportunities for cooperation.”

While Israel does not have a formal embassy in Monrovia, it has an ambassador to Liberia, Ghana and Sierra Leone.

“There are so many issues we can work on together, there is a need to advance cooperation in agriculture as soon as possible, and we spoke about other fields of interest including health, defense, and foreign affairs – there are many issues that can be upgraded dramatically,” Herzog said in a statement.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog meets with President of Liberia, George Weah, in Jerusalem, July 4, 2023. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

The two also discussed plans to bring Liberian students to Israel in order to study agricultural innovations. Israeli companies that specialize in agritech, solar and other alternative energy technologies operate extensively in African countries.

“We want to work with Israel so we can continue to succeed,” said Weah.

Weah also told Herzog that he took the opportunity while in Israel to pray for his son’s success after Tim Weah signed a contract earlier this week to play for Italian Serie A team Juventus.

“I put my note in the Western Wall to God that Timothy will be the greatest player in the Italian league,” Weah told Herzog.

Weah, a former renowned soccer star who was once FIFA player of the year, also wished the Israeli Under-21 national team luck as they prepared for the semi-finals of the European soccer championship Wednesday evening.

“Play hard and prepare well,” he said.

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