Originally published in Geller Report
While the Trump administration was hit with a barrage of warnings that is stands to throw the Middle East into chaos if it recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — which President Trump did in a historic announcement yesterday — the 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 emphasising 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.
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.
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.