Israel will open embassy in Rwanda, works to deepen ties with Africa

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opens the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left for Kenya on Tuesday for a whirlwind visit, which includes meetings with African leaders and an announcement of a new Israeli embassy in Africa, his office said.

He hailed the new embassy as part of his ongoing program to "deepen cooperation between Israel and African countries".

The visit comes at the occasion of the inauguration ceremony of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was recently re-elected in controversial elections.

Netanyahu spoke of Israel's desire to see Africa progress and achieve its development goals, promising his government's assistance in providing the necessary technology.

Also discussed at the meeting was the possibility of opening a direct air link between the two countries.

Likud MK David Amsalem at a Knesset plenary session
Likud MK David Amsalem at a Knesset plenary session

Meanwhile, Israel and the US are slated to sign a memorandum of understanding next week that will bring Israel into the Power Africa initiative, an global program to connect 60 million households in Africa to the electricity grid by 2030, according to The Times of Israel on Tuesday.

Netanyahu called on the African leaders to "contend with the various challenges facing the region, including Islamic terrorism".

The meeting with Kagame was part of marathon meetings that Netanyahu held on the sidelines of Kenyatta's inauguration ceremony, which included meetings with the presidents of Gabon, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, South Sudan, Botswana, and Namibia. "If we work together we can defeat the barbarians. Our people deserve better, we can provide it for them", Netanyahu said.

"We believe in the future of Africa, we love Africa and I would like very much not only to cooperate on an individual basis with each of your countries but also with the African Union", he added.

In his address to AIPAC last March, Netanyahu observed that Israel has "diplomatic relations with 161 countries, more than at any time in our history". Weeks later, the Republic of Guinea, a Muslim-majority African nation, restored diplomatic ties with Israel after a 49-year break.

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