"Israel has the technology and the experience to help you combat Al Shabaab and Boko Haram terrorist groups," MK Penina Tamanu-Shata told a group of African university students and diplomats last week.

 Delegation of African students visits Israel


Copyright: Sasson Tiram

A delegation from the International Relations Institute of Cameroon (IRIC) visited Israel from June 22-27, 2014. The visit was an expression of the excellent bilateral relations between Israel and Cameroon as well as a way to promote relations with other countries represented in the delegation. It was also an opportunity for the student diplomats to further their learning and to share experiences.

During the visit, the delegation attended a series of meetings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Knesset, the Supreme Court and other institutions.

The African delegation to Israel consisted of diplomacy students from the International Relations Institute of Cameroon (IRIC), headed by Pierre Emmanuel Tabi, Director of  IRIC. At the Israel Foreign Ministry, they participated in a discussion of Israel-Africa relations with senior ministry officials, and also met with the Israeli cadets who have just completed their training course at the ministry.

 Delegation of African students visits Israel

 The members of the IRIC delegation against the background of Jerusalem
 Copyright: Sasson Tiram

The IRIC delegation also met at the Israeli parliament with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, MKs Tamanu-Shata, Merav Michaeli, and Shimon Solomon who are members of the African lobby at the Israeli parliament – the Knesset. 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."

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 Boko 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."

On their visit to Tel Aviv, the delegation was received by the deputy mayor of Tel Aviv, Mrs. Meherete Barouch-Ron (Israeli of Ethiopian origin), with whom they discussed possible avenues in municipal cooperation.

The visit was rich and covered various aspects such as religious interests with the visit of the holy sites in Jerusalem; historical interests with the visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum; agricultural interests with the visit to model farms at the MASHAV training center and learning about irrigation methods at a kibbutz; geo-strategic with the visit to the Golan Heights, and a briefing at an Israeli army base on the border with Lebanon.

Finally, the delegation discussed possible avenues of academic and research cooperation with the Truman Institute at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and with the Political Science Department of the University of Tel Aviv. It is hoped that a tradition of IRIC visits to Israel will be established in the coming years.