”Israel has the technology and the experience to help you combat terrorist groups Al Shabaab and Boko Haram,” MK Penina Tamanu-Shata (Yesh Atid) told a group of African university students and diplomats this week.
The African delegation to Israel consisted of diplomacy students from the International Relations Institute of Cameroon (IRIC), headed by Pierre Emmanuel Tabi, who also attended Monday`s meeting at the Israeli parliament with MKs Tamanu-Shata, Merav Michaeli (Labor) and Shimon Solomon (Yesh Atid). Gabonese diplomat Guy Roger Obame N`Goua and Congolese diplomat ALOMBI Classase Alombi also took part in the meeting.
The African students hail from Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad and Nigeria. The three MKs, who head the Israel-African Countries Parliamentary Friendship Group, recently joined Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and some 50 Israeli businesspeople on a visit to Rwanda, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Ethiopia and Kenya. MKs Solomon and Tamanu-Shata both immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia at a young age.
MK Solomon said the 19th Knesset is placing an emphasis on strengthening the relations between Israel and Africa, adding that FM Liberman also attaches great importance to the relations between Israel and Africa. ”Israel and Africa have a lot in common, including the liberation from colonialism,” he said. ”There are many problems in Africa – it has experienced genocide and conflicts, and here we are also after genocide – the Holocaust.”
The Yesh Atid lawmaker said Israel needs the help of its friends in Africa to obtain observer state status in the African Union, ”despite pressure from Arab countries.”
Addressing the rise of terror organizations in Africa, MK Tamanu-Shata told the delegation that ”unfortunately, Israel has a lot of experience in this field. Israel, which is called the `high-tech nation,` has the knowledge to help Africa in its struggle against terror groups such as Al Shabaab and Boko Haram.”
MK Tamanu-Shata mentioned that a number of female MKs took part in a protest following the abduction of some 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria by Boco Haram terrorists and said the Knesset must promote cooperation between Israel and Africa in the fight against terror.
Michaeli noted that during their visit to Africa the three first-term MKs were impressed by the ”prominence of women in African politics” and noted that in many African countries parliaments must be composed of at least 30 percent women.
”It was a site for sore eyes,” she said. ”To see this in a continent that has to deal with so many issues – to see the contribution that women make there – it`s truly inspiring.”
Oded Ben-Hur, the Knesset`s diplomatic advisor, told the African visitors that the Israeli legislature is working within various inter-parliamentary organizations, such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Organizations for Security and Cooperation in Europe, to promote a ”positive agenda of cooperation.”
”Since what is lacking in the Mideast conflict is predominantly confidence, or trust between the parties, the idea is to promote projects in fields such as water, energy and medicine – which are in the best interest of all the countries in the region, predominantly Arab countries and the Palestinians. But these projects may also be relevant to European and African countries,” Ben-Hur said.
”The idea is to put on the agenda positive projects with the support of all the participants in these inter-parliamentary assemblies. On Sunday we were scheduled to launch an IPU-sponsored water project with the Jordanians, Palestinians and a number of Arab countries at a hotel on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea. It was cancelled at the last minute due to the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers, but it shows that we can cooperate and build trust, starting from the bottom up; or in other words, people-to- people. When you put positive things on the agenda, there is less room for negativity. This is where African countries can join in. Together we can promote that which we are lacking in the area – trust and confidence,” the Knesset`s political advisor said.