By Aryeh Savir/TPS • 1 September, 2019
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed upon his arrival on Sunday in Israel with a guard of honor at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.
“Israel welcomes the visit of the Ethiopian Prime Minister, to which it attaches great importance as it will contribute to the enhancement of the relationship and strengthen the cooperation between the two countries,” Israel’s foreign ministry stated.
Ahmed began his official visit to the State of Israel with a visit to Yad Vashem – Israel’s official memorial to victims of the Holocaust. Laying a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance to honor the victims of the Holocaust, Abiy said that “important lessons must be drawn to counter toxic thinking and actions that led to such a devastating part of history.”
At the reception, Netanyahu stated that “the first requirement of any government, of any society, is to provide security. We are both facing threats posed by radical Muslim terrorists. They threaten not only us but the entire world. We believe we can share the experience we have gained due to our unfortunate need to protect ourselves.”
He further underscored the close ties between the two countries.
“Our ancient nations have historical ties, but it is special because it is also reinforced by a human bridge of 150,000 Ethiopian Israelis bringing Ethiopian culture and Ethiopian pride to Israel, just as they preserved the Jewish people’s culture and the pride of the Jewish people in Ethiopia,” he said.
This important visit is taking place after Netanyahu’s historic visit to East Africa in July 2016, during which he visited Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia. Weeks later, the Republic of Guinea, a Muslim-majority African nation, restored diplomatic ties with Israel after a 49-year break.
In the following August, Senegal and Guinea, two Muslim-majority West African nations, sent their first-ever ambassadors to Israel.
Ethiopia is a central African state, with which Israel has a close and friendly relationship and cooperation in many fields including agriculture, water and irrigation, health, education, science, technology and innovation.
The visit’s focus is on strengthening bilateral cooperation in the fields of security, agriculture and technology, with special emphasis on cyber-security.
Netanyahu has made strengthening Israel’s relationship with African nations a major priority. He has stated on several occasions that “Israel is returning to Africa,” and that “Africa is returning to Israel.”