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Israeli PM expresses desire to strengthen Israel - Africa relations

Israeli PM expresses desire to strengthen Israel - Africa relations

Uganda

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed his country’s desire to strengthen its relationship with with Africa.

“Africa is a continent on the rise. Israel looks forward to strengthening ties with all its countries,” Netanyahu said at the start of his African tour in Uganda.

Netanyahu said he was “proud to be the first Israeli Prime Minister in over 20 years to visit sub-Saharan Africa” noting that “many African leaders visit Israel”.

Africa is a continent on the rise. Israel looks forward to strengthening ties with all its countries

“After many decades, I can say unequivocally (that) Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel,” he said.

Netanyahu on Monday attended a commemorative ceremony in the Ugandan town of Entebbe to mark 40 years of the Entebbe raid during which his brother was killed.

“Forty years ago they (Israeli soldiers) landed in the dead of the night in a country led by a brutal dictator. Today, we landed in broad day light in a friendly country led by a president who fights terrorists,” Netanyahu said at the ceremony.

Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan “Yoni” Netanyahu had led an assault team of 29 commandos to storm the Entebbe Airport terminal in 1976 to rescue Israelis and others who had been on board an Air France flight diverted to Uganda by Palestinian and German hijackers.

Yoni Netanyahu was the only Israeli soldier killed in the raid alongside the hijackers, three hostages and dozens of Ugandan soldiers.

More than 100 mostly Israeli hostages were however freed. Uganda’s leader at the time, Idi Amin broke ties with Israeli after the raid.

But speaking in Entebbe, the Israeli Prime Minister said: “I am touched to stand in this place, this very place, where my brother Yoni fell. … Entebbe is always with me, in my thoughts, in my consciousness, deep in my heart”.

“My brother’s death changed my life and directed it to its present course,” Netanyahu said in a 2012 interview with Newsweek.

The Israeli leader who is being accompanied on his visit by a delegation of 80 Israeli business executives from more than 50 companies is expected to visit Kenya next. Israel provides training for Kenya’s security forces and has other investments in the east African nation.

The tour will also take the Israeli premier to Rwanda and Ethiopia.