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African states may follow Trump Jerusalem embassy move: Tanzania's speaker

Tanzania's President John Magufuli, who came to power in 2015 as a corruption-fighting "man of the people", has been increasingly criticised over his authoritarian leadership style
Daniel Hayduk (AFP/File)
"Whatever Israel wants, we in Ghana will go by that, because that is essentially an internal decision"

While the Trump administration has been hit with a barrage of warnings that is stands to throw the Middle East into chaos if it recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the possible move has garnered support among Israel's allies in Africa.

In interviews with i24NEWS on Tuesday, parliamentary leaders from Tanzania and Ghana visiting Israel to celebrate their collaboration as part of the “Power Africa” initiative, expressed support for an American policy shift on the holy city.

Speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania, Job Ndugai, began his interview by emphasizing the importance of being in Jerusalem, where the Israeli parliament sits, and later expressed his outright support of Israel’s capital as an appropriate place for foreign embassies.

“It is a very commendable decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I believe it will be followed suit by several African countries, Tanzania included, to move said quarters from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, because we believe where the parliament is -- I am a speaker of parliament -- then the government should be there and embassies should be there too.”

When asked about the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the speaker of Ghana's parliament Aaron Mike Oquaye also affirmed that country's support for Israel on the issue, saying, “whatever Israel wants, we in Ghana will go by that, because that is essentially an internal decision.”

Israel annexed Jerusalem after its victory in the 1967 Six Day War, and sees the city as its undivided capital. However the Palestinians covet the Arab-majority eastern parts of the city as the capital of their hoped-for future state.

CRISTINA ALDEHUELA (AFP)

When questioned on appeals from the Palestinian Authority and their supporters to disavow support for Israel, the senior Tanzanian MP said, “we see no harm in having relations with Israel, actually we see very many benefits in having been closer and closer with Israel.”

His views where echoed by Oquaye, who said that the West African state, one of West Africa's rising economies, strongly supports of Israel and is keen to deepen economic relations, as there was “not much [economic] cooperation” in the past.

Oquaye added, “Nevertheless, Israel is quite active in my country Ghana in areas of agriculture, scientific areas, and other development. But we are looking forward to a time when there will be a deeper activity between Ghana and Israel. We offer a lot of opportunities,” referring to Ghana’s abundant natural resources, including gold, diamond, bauxite, cocoa, and now oil.

Referring to Palestinian pleas to the broader African Union, Oquaye acknowledged “there have been attempts to seek support, nevertheless I believe that there are strong historical ties between Israel and Ghana”, also mentioning how Christians in Africa believe in Israel as the predominant regional power.

Sebastian Scheiner (AP/AFP)

During Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip last week to Africa for the swearing-in of Kenya's president, he met with the presidents of African states Gabon, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda, South Sudan, Botswana and Namibia, and with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

Israel sees rising African economies as potential bountiful new markets, and has reportedly signed a swathe of lucrative arms deals with several countries on the continent.

Netanyahu declared his intention to seek observer status for Israel at the African Union, viewing African countries as potential allies, particularly at the United Nations and other international bodies.

The commitment from the African nations marks a significant change from the 1960’s, when the Arab-Israeli conflict drove a wedge in their relations with the Jewish state.

Following wars between Israel and its neighbors in 1967 and 1973, North African nations led by Egypt put pressure on sub-Saharan African states to cut ties with Israel, which many did.

Relations were not helped by Israel's friendship with the apartheid regime in South Africa before it fell in 1994.

AFP contributed to this report.

Comments

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Thank you, thank you and thank you Tanzania and Ghana. Please start the move to Jerusalem and let the world know that Jerusalem is indivisible and the eternal capital of Israel. I hope that our President stands up for Israel and makes the move tomorrow.

Praise G-d! The African nations were intimidated by the Arab nations‘ threat to put up the price of oil to them many years ago The African nations are all beginning to see the way that they took a wrong decision in turning away from Israel The Bible is clear and simple on this all important issue of identifying with Israel and the people of Israel; “I will bless those who bless you “ Genesis 12.3 Jeff Leeds (UK)

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After the sale of Black Africans in Libya, I think it is time for Black African nations to rethink their relationship with the Arab World. Arab colonialism is part of our misery. The Arabs destroyed African civilizations from Morocco to Egypt and from Egypt to Sudan and pushed us south of the Sahara. Today, one of the Ancient civilizations that suffered from Arab colonialism has come out to reclaim its pre-Islamic territory. We have to support them. Jerusalem was Jewish before Arab colonialism became a reality. Aside everything, the teachings of Moses and King David which has brought light to the world remains with the Jewish people. The prophet of Islam acknowledged that Arabs should go to the Jews to learn the deeper meaning of spiritual things. So we ALL need to respect the Jewish people. And in the very least, we have to give them the small piece of land the Jewish people lay claim to. The Arabs control land from Morocco to Pakistan. From Turkey to Sudan. What would the small territory of Israel add to the huge land the Arabs control. This is in order, and ALL nations should recognize Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish people.

Please allow me to correct your article. You write “Israel annexed Jerusalem after its victory in the 1967 Six Day War, and sees the city as its undivided capital. …” Jerusalem (although the western part) has been the Capital of the State of Israel even before the 1967 Six Day War. After its victory in the 1967 Six Day War, Israel annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem, including the old city.

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