PM Benjamin Netanyahu and President of Rwanda Paul Kagame in Jerusalem. (Kobi Gideon/GPO) (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Netanyahu Rwanda

International isolation? The latest Israeli embassy to open in an African country will be located in the capital of Kigali.

By: Ariel Kahana and Israel Hayom Staff via JNS

Israel will open an embassy in the central African state of Rwanda in 2019. The new embassy will be located in the capital, Kigali.

Although the two countries have maintained diplomatic relations for years, contacts have been held via the Israeli Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Foreign Ministry officials support the move, which is now pending final approval from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the acting foreign minister.

Rwanda maintains an embassy in Tel Aviv.

Diplomatic relations between the countries are close and include, among other exchanges, security cooperation and Israeli weapons exports to Rwanda. Additionally, Israel has sought to send a portion of the illegal African migrants in the country to Rwanda, although efforts have thus far failed due to internal pressure on the Rwandan government to oppose the measure.

The issue of opening an embassy in Rwanda was first raised in 2016, when Netanyahu visited the country and promised that Israel would open a mission there. The prime minister has repeated that promise several times, but now, with the closing of the Israeli Embassy in Paraguay, a quota for a new embassy was made available.

In September Netanyahu ordered the closure of Israel’s embassy in Paraguay after the Latin American nation’s new government reversed its decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame visited Israel in July 2017, when he met with Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.

Thriving Cooperation with Africa

“The cooperation between our countries is thriving in many fields, including technology, agriculture, energy and security. We appreciate what Israel has to offer us in these areas and in other areas, and we are very happy to work with you. Rwanda is open for business, and we look forward to welcoming private sector delegations from Israel even more frequently in the future,” he said at the time.

Knesset member Michael Oren on Sunday praised Netanyahu for the embassy plan.

“Congratulations to Prime Minister Netanyahu for his diplomatic accomplishments, thanks to which Israel will be opening its first embassy in Rwanda,” he tweeted.

Netanyahu has made improving relations with African nations a priority.

In his address to AIPAC in March 2016, Netanyahu observed that Israel has “diplomatic relations with 161 countries, more than at any time in our history.”

In July 2016, he made a historic trip to East Africa, where he visited Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia. Weeks later, the Republic of Guinea, a Muslim-majority African nation, restored diplomatic ties with Israel after a 49-year break.

In August, Senegal and Guinea, two Muslim-majority West African nations, sent their first-ever full-time ambassadors to Israel.

Israel has a long history of sharing its expertise with African countries, and Jerusalem hopes that stronger 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.”

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