Diplomacy

Israel to Open Embassy in Rwanda, Expanding Presence in Africa

While on a state visit to Kenya, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, and announced Tuesday that Israel would open an embassy in that East African nation.

Netanyahu also announced that Israel was considering establishing direct flights to Rwanda after meeting with Kagame, The Times of Israel reported. “This is part of the expansion of Israel’s presence in Africa and of the deepening cooperation between Israel and African countries,” Netanyahu said.

The Israeli embassy in Ethiopia currently handles Israel’s interests in Rwanda.

Netanyahu, who met with Kagame and a number of other African leaders, was in Nairobi for the inauguration of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta after a disputed election.

In addition to Kagame, Netanyahu met with the presidents of Gabon, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, South Sudan, Botswana, and Namibia, as well as the prime minister of Ethiopia.

According to Netanyahu, four African countries have opened missions to Israel in the past two years and he was recruiting others to join them.

In July 2016, Netanyahu became the first Israeli prime minister to visit Rwanda during a historic trip to East Africa. This past summer Israel welcomed Kagame on a state visit.

Rwanda, in recent years, has become a diplomatic ally of Israel, including abstaining on a vote for Palestinian statehood at the United Nations in 2014.

Kagame, himself, who is credited with bringing an end to the Rwandan genocide, has been friendly to Israel and became the first African head of state to speak at the AIPAC Policy Conference earlier this year.

[Photo: The Prime Minister of Israel / Facebook]