Diplomacy

In Historic Visit to Kazakhstan, Netanyahu Asks for Help With Security Council Bid

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the president of Kazakhstan for his friendship while visiting the Muslim-majority country on Wednesday, and enlisted his help with securing Israel a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Speaking at a joint press conference at President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s residence in Akorda, Netanyahu said that relations between the two nations serve as an “example of Muslim-Jewish cooperation … that reverberates throughout the world.”

“Our relations with our Muslim Arab neighbors are changing dramatically. Not all of is public, some of it is, but it’s changing dramatically. And I view the relations with Kazakhstan as being part of this great change that the world is waiting for,” added Israeli prime minister, the first to ever visit the Central Asian nation.

Netanyahu then asked Nazarbayev to back Israel’s petition for a rotating seat on the influential Security Council in 2019. “You know that we supported Kazakhstan’s successful bid to be in the Security Council. Now if you want a real change in the world, imagine the State of Israel on the Security Council of the United Nations – that’s a change,” he said.

Kazakhstan will begin serving its two-year term on the council in January.

Israel first publicized its intention to seek a Security Council seat after its 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip, which was welcomed by the UN, Herb Keinon and Yossi Melman explained in The Jerusalem Post. At the time, then-Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom indicated that Israel was hoping to secure a spot on the council in 2019.

“As of 2000, Israel became a member of the 28-strong [West European and Others Group], a move that opened the door to Israel’s possible participation in the Security Council. The 2019 date was the next available date in which both WEOG slots had not already been claimed,” Keinon and Melman wrote.

“To win a place on the Security Council, each country needs at least a two-thirds majority in the General Assembly, or support from 128 countries. Belgium is also trying to win a slot on the influential council. Israel is the only country in the Mideast – and one of 67 countries in the UN, many of those small island-states – that has never sat on the Security Council, a body that historically has had a tremendous impact on Israel and the region,” they added.

Nazarbayev, who previously visited Israel twice, expressed interest in boosting cooperation in agriculture and technology. Kazakhstan sells Israel $700 million in oil annually, about one fifth of Israel’s total.

Israeli Environment Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who accompanied Netanyahu on the trip, explained the strategic significance of ties with Kazakhstan. “Kazakhstan is a massive country, rich in natural resources, which enjoys close relations with Russia and China, as well as having good relations with the US,” he said, adding that the relationship could help Israeli businesses establish commercial ties with China.

Israeli businessmen who joined the delegation attended a conference with their counterparts from Kazakhstan on Wednesday.

Netanyahu’s trip to Kazakhstan comes on the heels of his visit to Azerbaijan on Tuesday, where he similarly praised Muslim and Jewish regional cooperation.

[Photo: Haim Zach / GPO ]