Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tour of Africa that has seen him visit Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia has been interpreted variously. Some pundits see it as Israel’s bid to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1976 Israeli military raid at Entebbe, Uganda, while others see it as her as endeavour to urge African states to support her at the U.N. General Assembly, where member states overwhelmingly recognized Palestine as a non-member observer state in 2012.
In the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, followed by the global oil crisis, most of the Sub-Saharan states severed diplomatic ties with Israel, on grounds of promises of cheap oil and financial aid by Arab states, and compliance with the OAU (Organization of African Unity) resolution, sponsored by Egypt, calling for the severing of relations with Israel. In the 1980s however, diplomatic relations with Sub-Saharan states were gradually renewed and by the late 1990s, official ties had been re-established with forty countries south of the Sahara.
At the moment, Israel and the Sub-Saharan states are engaged in political dialogue, reciprocal visits, economic ties, cultural and academic contacts, a variety of joint agricultural projects, medical assistance, professional training programs and humanitarian aid. Will the re-entry by Israel mark a new era for Africa? Yes—if Africa demonstrates a sound strategy to ride on Israel’s interests. A poverty of strategy on the African side will deny African people a resounding win in the Africa-Israel partnership.