(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Israel has had to indefinitely postpone a summit it had planned with African countries following a boycott by a number of those states.
The so-called Africa-Israel Summit, a first of its kind, had been due to take place in Togo’s capital, Lome, on October 23-27. Israeli officials had reportedly planned to discuss with African leaders ways to enhance cooperation in the fields of “technology, development, and security.”
In a statement released on Monday, Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced the postponement of the event without providing an alternative date.
“At the request of the president of Togo [Faure Gnassingbe] and following a joint consultation with the prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu), it was decided to postpone the convening of the Israel-Africa Summit, scheduled to take place in October in Lome,” the statement read.
Shunning ‘regime of occupation’
The delay came amid reports that Sudan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Mauritania had decided to boycott the gathering.
South African Ambassador to Lebanon and Syria Sean Benfeldt said last month that his country would not take part in the summit, which he said would be a step by Israel to normalize ties between Africa and a regime of “occupation.”
He also denounced “Israel’s inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip, stressing the need for practical solutions to the humanitarian suffering of the population in the besieged [Palestinian] territory.”
In an attempt to improve relations with African states, the Israeli premier went on a tour of East African countries — namely Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia — in July 2016.
He also attended a meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Liberia in June 2017.
Moroccon King Mohammed VI did not participate in the event because Netanyahu had been invited.
Additionally on Monday, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the postponement of the first Africa-Israel Summit “was a result of sizable pressure” by the Palestinian government.
The gathering, it said, had been meant to “enhance Israel’s influence in the African continent and to make the continent dependent” on the regime.
“The Arab League, along with the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, and other Arab and Islamic groups and parliaments of Arab countries, have adopted several initiatives seeking to counter and thwart that summit,” the statement said.
Last month, the Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad wrote to African governments, calling for the boycott of the Togo summit and dissociation from “Israel’s Apartheid regime.”
“African countries, which fought colonialism for decades and became free after a long suffering, should never associate themselves with the only, longest, and most brutal colonial project in the world today,” the letter read.