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Israel to open embassy in Rwanda, deepening African diplomatic partnerships

Slated to open in 2019, the new Israeli embassy will be located in the capital of Kigali.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Davos in January 2018. Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Davos in January 2018. Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO.

Israel will open an embassy in the central African state of Rwanda in 2019, Israel Hayom learned on Sunday. The new embassy will be located in the capital, Kigali.

Although the two countries have maintained diplomatic relations for years, contacts have been held via the Israeli Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Foreign Ministry officials support the move, which is now pending final approval from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the acting foreign minister.

Rwanda maintains an embassy in Tel Aviv.

Diplomatic relations between the countries are close and include, among other exchanges, security cooperation and Israeli weapons exports to Rwanda. Additionally, Israel has sought to send a portion of the illegal African migrants in the country to Rwanda, although efforts have thus far failed due to internal pressure on the Rwandan government to oppose the measure.

The issue of opening an embassy in Rwanda was first raised in 2016, when Netanyahu visited the country and promised that Israel would open a mission there. The prime minister has repeated that promise several times, but now, with the closing of the Israeli Embassy in Paraguay, a quota for a new embassy was made available.

As a reminder, in September Netanyahu ordered the closure of Israel’s embassy in Paraguay after the Latin American nation’s new government reversed its decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame visited Israel in July 2017, when he met with Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.

“The cooperation between our countries is thriving in many fields, including technology, agriculture, energy and security. We appreciate what Israel has to offer us in these areas and in other areas, and we are very happy to work with you. Rwanda is open for business, and we look forward to welcoming private sector delegations from Israel even more frequently in the future,” he said at the time.

Kulanu Party Knesset member Michael Oren on Sunday praised Netanyahu for the embassy plan.

“Congratulations to Prime Minister Netanyahu for his diplomatic accomplishments, thanks to which Israel will be opening its first embassy in Rwanda,” he tweeted.

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