Wide Angle

Benjamin Netanyahu puts down the efforts made by Morocco to derail the African-Israeli summit

The Israel-African summit scheduled for October is indeed going to be attended by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Despite the efforts made by Palestine, Morocco and South Africa to derail the event, both Togo and Israel are keen to hold their first diplomatic gathering.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with African leaders in Liberia pm June 4, 2017./Ph. Jerusalem Post
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Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is set to attend on October the first African-Israeli summit that will be held in Togo. Invited by the Togolese president, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, Netanyahu is determined to be part of this gathering that will enable him to hold one-on-one talks with several African leaders. However, according to the Times of Israel, an Israeli-based news website launched in 2012, Israel has been putting down this week the efforts made by several pro-Palestinian countries to prevent the summit.

Togo is supposed to invite 54 African countries to the event that is meant to last 4 days from the 23rd to the 27th of October in Lome. However, Morocco, Palestine and South Africa are trying to derail the meeting as both African and Israeli sources told the Times of Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu also commented on the «pressure» put by the three countries to boycott the Israeli-African summit. «This is not taking place without contrary pressure», he said during a Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting adding that :

«Various pressures have been placed on the Togolese president to cancel the conference. These pressures are the best testimony to the success of our policy, of Israel’s presence in Africa»

Netanyahu's attempts to hold diplomatic ties with Africa

Indeed, the Israeli prime minister has been attempting to reinforce its presence in the continent. He is going to be the first non-African leader to ever take a central role in the conference. Although, the summit’s planning has not been revealed yet but Netanyahu is likely to address the entire gathering and hold talks with African leaders. According to organizers, the summit would probably be attended by senior officials and leaders of countries that has no diplomatic ties with Israel.

«Preparations are going very well. You will have approximately 150 Israeli companies attending the summit, about a dozen from West Africa and also many from Central and East Africa,» Bruno Finel, the event’s organizer told the same source. Moreover, Netanyahu has declared that one of the country’s major foreign policy objectives is to offer «African states development aid, economic cooperation, and anti-terrorism know-how».

Morocco's refusal

As for Morocco, the Israeli newspaper indicates that it is leading the opposition to the planned-African-israeli conference. For them, the kingdom eyes competition in the Israeli attempt. Speaking to an African source that requested anonymity due to the nature of the issue, the Times of Israel states that «Morocco wants to become a superpower, and they understand that Africa is a major market for them». «Morocco’s opposition to the summit has nothing to do with support for the Palestinians — zero. They just sees Israel as competitors, just like China, India or Japan», the same source added.

For the record, King Mohammed VI did not attend the Economic Community of West African States summit (ECOWAS) held in Liberia on the 4th of June. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister who has declared before that he hopes to meet the Moroccan sovereign, has taken part of the African meeting.

South Africa, on the other hand, and most precisely the African National Congress party has issued last month a «discussion document» urging African states to sabotage the Israeli-African summit.

Despite that, Israel did not show fears when it comes to attending the conference. «The efforts by the Palestinians, the Moroccans, and the South Africans to sabotage the planned summit in Togo are doomed to fail,» a senior diplomatic official in Jerusalem said on Monday.

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