By Joaquin Sendolo, Observer Diplomatic Correspondent
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told West African leaders to get prepared to relate to the State of Israel in a number of economic areas.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, who formed part of the 51st Summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held in Liberia on June 4, 2017, said, “Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa back to Israel; Africa is on the rise, and we believe in Africa.”
He described Israel as a “leader” in many economic activities, including technology, agriculture, water, security, and health.
On security, Prime Minister Netanyahu said “the cloud of terrorism is overwhelming,” urging West African and Africa leaders to collaborate with Israel and other targeted countries “to fight so that peace and stability will overcome instability and violence.”
He said Israel has advanced knowledge in water recycling, considering his country is one with a scarcity of water. With this expertise, Prime Minister Netanyahu told African leaders that Israel is about to send experts on trade to all West and East African countries to work in water recycling technology, agriculture, communication, and security.
He noted that as Africa is experiencing progress and growth, and that technology is advancing daily, Africans should seize the opportunity to improve in technology to fall in line with other countries.
“The foundation we lay today will go along with the future generation,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said.
Citing some historical connections with Africa, the Israeli Prime Minister said just as Israelis suffered slavery, so did Africans. He said African countries were denied independence like Israel, and by their solidarity, Israel gained independence in 1948 and became a part of the United Nations.
Israel has diplomatic relations with 41 of the 44 countries of Sub-Sahara Africa, and Liberia was one of the African countries that voted ‘Yes’ to Israel becoming an independent and sovereign nation, and a Jewish state.
According to “Liberia History and Culture,” Liberia-Israel relations goes far back in 1958 when the Open Door Policy under President William V.S. Tubman allowed Israel to send agricultural experts to Liberia to perform two surveys in the sector.
A report following the survey recommended ways of growing market crops in Liberia and the establishment of modern agricultural programs.
One result of the survey was a US$7 million grant for the construction and maintenance of a youth village in Harrisburg, Montserrado County, where a modern farm was set up with the active assistance of an Israeli agriculture advisor.
During the Tubman regime, Israeli eye specialists set up the first eye clinic in Liberia in 1960 and a Liberian doctor and several nurses were trained in Israel to tackle eye diseases that were prevalent at the time.
The New York Times also reported that President Samuel K. Doe visited Israel in August 1983 where he met with Prime Minister Menachem Begin and promised to work for the renewal of diplomatic relations between Israel and African countries after a “Decade long rupture.”
President Doe, said the New York Times, also expressed support to Israel’s policy in the Middle East and urged the Palestinians to come for “Peaceful discussions rather than meeting on the battlefield.”
The demolished Defense Ministry building that was in Congo Town where the current ministerial complex project was one of Israel’s projects in Liberia.
A few months ago President Sirleaf and some of her government officials visited Israel and held discussions on improving Liberia’s agriculture sector.