Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday asked Edgar Lungu to help Israel regain its observer status at the African Union, a position it lost in 2002 and has had trouble regaining, primarily because of the objection of South Africa and the North African Muslim states, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The Palestinian Authority enjoys this status in the pan-African body, and as a result Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is able each year to address the annual summit, something denied to Israel.
Lungu agreed but is still consulting his aides on how much to charge Netanyahu for the assignment. Under Lungu, Zambia’s foreign policy has been haphazard at best and driven by bribery. Lungu recently received money from the King of Morocco to withdraw Zambia’s recognition of Western Sahara, barely two weeks after pledging Zambia’s support to the liberation of Western Sahara from Moroccan colonialism. Now he has agreed to go against the African Union’s position on Israel and Palestine.
But then, Netanyahu does not know the kind of hypocrite he is hosting. He will soon regret.
Lungu, one of the seven African leaders Netanyahu met at a three-hour summit in Uganda in July, arrived on Monday for a five-day visit.
‘He arrived here with a BEVY of government ministers, including his ministers for foreign affairs, agriculture, trade, energy, tourism, water development and environment, transportation, health, and industry and employment,’ the Jerusalem Post mockingly reports. ‘Bevy’ means a large group of things of a particular kind.
Zambia is one of the few African countries with a military attache in Israel. It opened an embassy here in 2015. Israel does not have an embassy in Zambia.
Netanyahu said after meeting Lungu that his country “has undergone an amazing and admirable change in a transition to democracy since the ‘90s.”
He said that Israel hopes to “deepen its cooperation with the country, which I think is important for both our countries and both our peoples. I know that you’re opening a Jewish history museum in Zambia and soon a synagogue in the capital city. I hope one day I have the opportunity to visit those institutions and to visit Zambia.”
At its peak, some 1,000 Jews lived in Zambia, though that number has dwindled to only about 30 today. There are three Jewish cemeteries in the country.
Lungu is the latest in a long list of African leaders who have visited Israel over the past year, including the presidents of Kenya, Sierra Leone and Togo, the prime minister of Swaziland, the deputy prime minister of Ethiopia, and the foreign ministers of Rwanda, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. In addition, Netanyahu met representatives of some 15 African states on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in September.
Netanyahu is scheduled to attend a summit with the leaders of more than a dozen African states in Togo in the Fall.