Togo's Gnassingbe requests cancellation of Israel-Africa summit amid unrest

REUTERS

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Netanyahu's diplomatic outreach to Africa has been one of his primary foreign policy objectives-under the banner of "Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel"-and has offered countries on the continent development aid and stressed the potential for economic and anti-terrorism cooperation at least in part for support from African nations to break the longstanding anti-Israel majority in the United Nations".

The cancelation of the Africa-Israel summit, slated to take place between October 23 and 27, will upend Israel's efforts to build trade partnerships in Africa, and secure global allies in its attempts to gain a seat on the United Nations (UN) security council next year.

Only last week the Israeli premier celebrated "a big breakthrough and a return to Africa" at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

The gathering, it said, had been meant to "enhance Israel's influence in the African continent and to make the continent dependent" on the regime.

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"The decision was linked to the internal situation in Togo".

"At the request of the president of Togo [Faure Gnassingbe] and following a joint consultation with the prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu), it was chose to postpone the convening of the Israel-Africa Summit, scheduled to take place in October in Lome", the statement read.

In a statement released on Monday, Israel's Foreign Ministry announced the postponement of the event without providing an alternative date.

The newspaper attributed the decision to an internal crisis that in Togo, the work of the national opposition in Togo and also pressure from Arab nations and the Palestinian Authorities on the African countries to cancel the conference.

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"This is welcomed as good news by human rights organisations and the global BDS movement which has called for the isolation of Israel over its human rights abuses and violations of worldwide law", said BDS SA.

These have included two visits, in the space of a year, by Netanyahu to various countries, including Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia in July 2016, and to a West African summit in June.

A South African diplomat said his country had called on other countries to boycott Israel and refuse to normalize relations with it.

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