Guinea, Rwanda, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo or Morocco and Sudan … the time has come for political, economic and security relations to warm up between the African continent and Israel.
” Other African countries are more strategic geographically. Since the founding of Israel, the country has had special ties with Kenya. O Ethiopia, which is an open window to the Red Sea, is a strategic crossing of Israel in terms of trade and security.“, explained Anne-Sophie Sebban-Bécache, doctor of geopolitics and director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Paris. This organization was the co-organizer of the conference organized on Tuesday May 31 at the Israeli embassy in Paris. the president of Israeli diplomacy Yaïr Lapid through videoconference, about twenty speakers will debate during this symposium the “challenges and opportunities” of one “back to africa” in Israel. The stakes for Tel-Aviv in this African presence: to win trade outlets, to secure an outlet in the Red Sea, to gain the support of African countries in major international bodies, including UN. But also “restore its image”says the specialist.
Relationships broke down after the Yom Kippur War
“We realized a few years ago that there was no reason for African countries to automatically fight Israel”said Ram Ben-Barak, chairman of the Knesset’s foreign affairs committee and former deputy director of Mossad, quoted by the JDD.
Relations between Israel and Africa experienced a golden age in the 1960s. The Jewish state benefited from a capital of sympathy from African countries that had recently gained their independence. But in 1973, all member states of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the ancestor of the African Union, severed their diplomatic relations with Israel in unison with Egypt, part of whose territory, Sinai, was occupied by Israelis. army after the Yom Kippur War. The Jewish state was blacklisted on the continent until the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.
Israel now has diplomatic relations with about forty African countries and has about fifteen embassies there. Reopening embassies, reinvesting the economy, offering security expertise, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promoted this return of Israel to the continent.
To (re) read: Donald Trump’s diplomacy changes the maps between Morocco and Israel
In October 2020, Sudan, historically anti-Israel, normalized its diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. Two months later, it was Morocco’s turn, which had never officially recognized Israel since its creation in 1948. In December 2021, the two countries took another step forward with the signing of supply agreements with weapons, and cooperation with intelligence services. Israel and Morocco also signed an agreement on economic and trade cooperation in February in Rabat. The goal: to quadruple trade between the two countries, which now amounts to 130 million dollars per year. If Israel’s exports to Africa represent only 685 million dollars by 2021, 1.3% of the total, Israel is betting on the future and the growth potential of Africa.
Israel leads in the fields of technology, digital, agriculture
Among the most valued Israeli areas of expertise on the continent are security, agriculture, and especially new technologies, technology and digital. “There are signs of future projects being undertaken by Israel to encourage start-ups to move out of Africa”continued by Anne-Sophie Sebban-Bécache.
As for Israel’s agricultural sector, it has the latest technological expertise in terms of farming in dry environments, renewable energy production and water management. “Israel has sought since its creation to achieve self-satisfaction and agricultural development, while having to deal with a desert climate. Moreover, before the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Jewish state and in the countries of the continent, the first contacts were established first. between the Israeli Development Assistance Agency at the time and the governments of Africa. Many Africans were trained in Israel in agricultural techniques “explained by Anne-Sophie Sebban-Bécache.
The offensive is not only diplomatic and economic. Israel’s counter-terrorism expertise is especially sought after in Africa. His defensive gear as well. And even more so “In the Horn of Africa region, there are many security challenges, continued the researcher. Already in 2013, when a shopping center in Nairobi, Kenya was the victim of an attack by Somali Islamists Al-Shabaab, signs of cooperation between Israel’s elite counter-terrorist units and the Kenyan government seen.
If not, “the restoration, in a few months or a few years, of relations between Israel and the G5 Sahel countries could lead France to review its strategy in the field of fighting jihadism by cooperating more of the Israelis to suppress especially the growing influence of the Russians, advance David Khalfa, researcher at the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, cited by JDD.
South Africa and Algeria against any rapprochement in Tel Aviv
While most African countries favor dialogue with Israel, many heavyweights on the continent refuse to do so, in the name of human rights violations committed in the Palestinian Territories. Especially in South Africa and Algeria. Gathered in February in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a summit, African Union member countries were divided on the Israeli observer status within the organization. Many countries, including South Africa and Algeria, have tried in vain to bring up the topic for debate by putting it on the agenda. Since the end of Apartheid, South African leaders have criticized the Israeli government for pursuing a similar policy towards Palestinians. But Pretoria still remains Israel’s main economic partner on the African continent.
Read (again): Why did Israel divide the African Union?