Missing Ethiopian-Israeli Avera Mangistu (Courtesy Family via AP) (Courtesy Family via AP)
Avera Mengistu

In a historic visit to Africa, strengthening cooperation on several fronts, Netanyahu asked Ethiopia for help in search of a missing Ethiopian-Israeli in Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to his Ethiopian counterpart during his visit to the African country for assistance in locating and returning Avera Mengistu, an Ethiopian-Israeli citizen who went missing almost two years ago in the Gaza Strip.

“I have raised the issue of Avera (Avraham) Mengistu with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and asked for his help on the matter,” said Netanyahu. “We always raise the issue of our missing citizens in various occasions, and of course here too.”

Mengistu, 28, climbed over the border fence between Israel and Gaza on September 7, 2014. A mentally challenged resident of Ashkelon, Mengistu is believed to be held by the Hamas terrorist organization, which contends that he was released from its custody after a few days of questioning. Israel allowed details of the story to be published only after a 10-month gag order and maintains that Mengistu remains in Gaza as a Hamas captive.

Netanyahu made the pledge to attempt to free Mengistu at a press conference with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn at the Ethiopian National Palace. Netanyahu also announced plans for further Israeli-Ethiopian cooperation in a vast array of spheres, including agriculture, tourism, education and water.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Netanyahu

PM Benjamin Netanyahu (L) with his Ethiopian counterpart Hailemariam Desalegn during his visit to Africa. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

“We are committed to enhancing our partnership and our friendship in concrete ways.” said Netanyahu. “It is not just statements. It is a plan for concrete cooperation in areas that are important to both our peoples.”

Netanyahu highlighted the historic link between Israel and Ethiopia. “Israel has a special place in Ethiopia, and Ethiopia has a special place in Israel,” he stated. ”It goes back 3,000 years to the time of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.”

Approximately 300 entrepreneurs, senior company representatives, government ministers and senior ministry officials from both countries joined Netanyahu and Desalegn in Addis Ababa.

“I have really come here to suggest to you a simple thing, actually to ask you to do one thing: invest in Ethiopia, invest in Africa. And I say to our Ethiopian friends: invest in Israeli know-how, invest in Israeli companies. This is a partnership made in heaven. It has a long history, but more importantly, it has a brilliant future. Invest in each other,” Netanyahu stated.

Netanyahu also promised to help the remaining Jews there to make aliya (immigrate to Israel). “We have a commitment and we are fulfilling it in humanitarian cases and cases of family reunification,” he continued. “We have an obligation and we are dealing with it.”

The visit to Ethiopia wrapped up Netanyahu’s four-day trip to sub-Saharan Africa in which he also visited Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. Billed as “Back to Africa,” the visit was an investment in Israel’s diplomatic relations with the continent and was the first visit by an Israeli prime minister in 39 years.

By: TPS and United with Israel Staff

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