World, Africa

Uganda: Netanyahu urges stronger ties, embassy in J'lem

Only US, Guatemala have opened missions in Jerusalem, but visiting Israeli prime minister urges Uganda to do the same

Abele Mariam  | 04.02.2020 - Update : 04.02.2020
Uganda: Netanyahu urges stronger ties, embassy in J'lem

ENTEBBE, Uganda 

Israel is coming back to Africa, and Africa is coming back to Israel in a big way, the country’s prime minister said on a brief official visit to Uganda late Monday, also urging the country to controversially open an embassy in Jerusalem.

On his fifth visit to the East African country, Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s president, for supporting Israel’s efforts, saying: “Increasing our cooperation with African countries, that is something that is of great value to Israel.” 

He said Israel and Uganda are cooperating in many fields such as agriculture, education, and innovation. “We are open to doing more, including in cyber,” he added.

There are two things they would like to achieve, said Netanyahu. “Direct flights from Israel to Uganda to enable our friendship to flourish and second, you open an embassy in Jerusalem, and I will open an embassy in Kampala.” 

In response, Museveni said amid international controversy over embassies being located in Jerusalem, there is a part of the city that under a partition plan was in Israel, and Uganda is looking into that.

In 2018, after unilaterally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, triggering a world outcry, the U.S. relocated its embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but so far, Guatemala is the only other country to have an embassy in the holy city.

A controversial U.S. so-called peace plan announced last month refers to Jerusalem as “Israel’s undivided capital,” but Muslims worldwide have objected, saying East Jerusalem, now occupied by Israel, should serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

On possible flights, Museveni stated that Uganda would definitely work on it, but in the meantime: “I would invite [Israeli flag carrier] El Al to fly direct to Uganda from Israel. Even if it’s once a week it will be good enough.” 

On his last visit to Uganda in 2016, Netanyahu took part in a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of Operation Entebbe, the 1976 hostage rescue by Israeli commandos. The mission was the last led and carried out by Yonatan Netanyahu, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s brother, who died in the operation.

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