Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in Uganda this week to begin his four-nation African tour to strengthen Israel’s ties with the continent.
Reiterating the significance of his tour to East Africa, the Israeli leader promised to foster a healthful partnership with the entire African continent now and in the future.
“I believe that this meeting will be seen as a turning point in Israel’s ability to reach a broad number of African countries, which [is] our goal,” Netanyahu said in a statement Monday, after meeting several African heads of state in Uganda.
On Sunday, as he embarked on his trip, Netanyahu noted that the African continent has vast diplomatic and commercial partnerships for Israel.
Building Support for Israel
Apart from bolstering trade relations, the Israeli premier made it clear that he intends to consolidate support and build a stronger voting block that will help Israel eliminate the so-called automatic majority against the Jewish state in international forums, according to the Times of Israel.
“That’s something that has never been possible in the past. We are a country with values that is sought after by countries in the world. We have many admirers in the world,” Netanyahu said.
He further mentioned that Tanzania had agreed to open its first-ever embassy in Israel as a sign of the warm relationship that exists between Africa and the Jewish state.
In a meeting with leaders from the seven African nations (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zambia, and South Sudan), the prime minister promised to further Israel’s cooperation with Africa in key areas, such as the fight against terrorism and technology.
President Museveni Under Fire
With Netanyahu visiting Uganda for the first time, the meeting between Netanyahu and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was supposed to be a day filled with pleasant memories.
However, things suddenly took a quick turn after Museveni repeatedly referred to Israel as “Palestine” in his public address.
During his speech, Museveni recalled Operation Entebbe, where Israeli army officers helped to rescue hostages from Entebbe International Airport after a plane belonging to France Air was hijacked by Palestinian militants in 1976.
“The sad event, 40 years ago, turned into another bond linking Palestine to Africa,” Museveni read. “I said this is yet another bond between Africa and Palestine because there were earlier bonding events,” he reiterated.
Many Ugandans took to social media where they openly questioned Museveni’s state of mind.
In a Diplomatic embarrassment, Museveni is constantly referring to Israel as Palestine as Netanyahu looks on. pic.twitter.com/jsWWyQIbV2
— Ritah Anderson (@Ritander) July 4, 2016
It’s alleged that Israel’s state broadcaster was forced to switch off Museveni’s speech broadcast following the Palestine gaffe.
The Prime Minister later traveled to Kenya on a three-day state visit, where he was received by President Uhuru Kenyatta and other Kenyan officials at State House Nairobi. The affair was reportedly a sumptuous state reception punctuated by a 19-gun salute.