Quarterly Updates for (16 Nov 2017 — 15 Feb 2018)

Although it suffered a setback last quarter with the indefinite postponement of the AfricaIsrael Summit (see JPS 47 [2]), Netanyahu’s diplomatic outreach campaign on the continent proceeded apace. The Israeli prime minister flew (11/28) to Nairobi for the inauguration of Uhuru Kenyatta as Kenya’s president, and he met with the leaders of ten other African countries on the sidelines of the ceremony. After meeting with Rwandan president Paul Kagame, Netanyahu announced the opening of a new Israeli embassy in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. “[This is] part of the expanding Israeli presence in Africa and the deepening of cooperation between Israel and African countries,” he said. A week earlier, the first reports had emerged in Israel of an agreement by Tel Aviv to pay the Rwandan government $5,000 for each asylum seeker of African origin that was expelled from Israel and accepted by Rwanda. On 1/22, a Rwandan minister of state at the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Olivier Nduhungirehe, issued a sharply worded denial on Twitter, saying, “In reference to the rumors that have been recently spread in the media, the Government of Rwanda wishes to inform that it has never signed any secret deal with Israel regarding the relocation of African migrants.” (Jerusalem Post, 2/4)

Also of note: South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, voted (12/20) to downgrade the South African embassy in Israel to a “liaison office” in response to Trump’s 12/6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.