President Jorge Carlos Fonseca of Cape Verde addresses the UN. (AP/Richard Drew) (AP/Richard Drew)
Jorge Carlos Fonseca

Israel’s vigorous diplomatic activity in Africa is already bearing fruit, as Cape Verde changes course in the UN.

Cape Verde’s President Jorge Carlos Fonseca has announced that his country will no longer vote against Israel at the United Nations (UN).

“I welcome the decision of the president of Cape Verde. This is the result of intensive diplomatic activity between Israel and Africa,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

Located off the western coast of Africa, Cape Verde was originally uninhabited until the Portuguese discovered and colonized its islands in the 15th century. Today the country—home to around 525,000 people, mainly of mixed Portuguese and African ancestry—is one of the most successful and stable countries in Africa.

According to Netanyahu, Cape Verde’s decision follows a meeting with Fonseca on the sidelines of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) meeting in Liberia in June.

While Cape Verde has generally voted against Israel in the past, it has abstained or been absent from some major anti-Israel votes, including the 2009 UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (also known as the Goldstone Report), which claimed Israel committed war crimes while fighting Hamas, and the 2011 UNESCO vote to accept the Palestinians as a member state.

Reversing the Automatic Majority Against Israel

Netanyahu has invested significant diplomatic efforts to foster ties with countries with whom Israel has not historically shared a productive relationship, and specifically the African continent.

“I believe in Africa, I believe in its potential – present and future,” Netanyahu declared while addressing the ECOWAS. “It is a continent on the rise. Its people are diverse and talented.”

“I have made strengthening our relations one of our top priorities – national and international priorities of the State of Israel. It’s the reason I became the first Israeli prime minister to visit Africa in decades. Well, one thing I can assure you – it won’t be decades until an Israeli leader visits Africa again. It won’t be five years. It’ll be a few months,” he announced.

In his address to AIPAC last March, Netanyahu observed that Israel has “diplomatic relations with 161 countries, more than at any time in our history.”

Jerusalem hopes that stronger African ties will lead to a shift in voting trends at the UN and other global forums, thus reversing what Netanyahu has labeled the “automatic majority against Israel.”

By: JNS.org and United with Israel Staff

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