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Palestinian diplomatic campaign derails Netanyahu`s African summit

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Monday
it was instrumental in leading a boycott campaign against the Africa-Israel
Summit planned for next month, after organizers of the summit announced the
event was “postponed” without providing a future date.

Last month, reports emerged that several African countries were planning to
boycott the summit. South African Ambassador to Lebanon and Syria Sean
Benfeldt reportedly said that the country would not take part because the
summit was viewed as a step by Israel to normalize relations between Africa
and an “occupation state.” Sudan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Mauritania
also decided to boycott the gathering.

A statement released by the Israeli foreign ministry Monday morning said
that the decision to “postpone” the event, set to take place in Lome in
October, came “following the request of the President of Togo and after
mutual consultations with the Prime Minister.”

Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe “emphasized that elaborate preparations
are needed in order to guarantee the success of the event,” the statement
said, and added that Gnassingbe “thanked and praised the (Israeli) Prime
Minister for his determination to strengthen the cooperation between his
country and Israel as well as for his personal engagement to guarantee the
initiative to hold the summit.”

However, the Palestinian foreign ministry released a statement later on
Monday, claiming that the collapse of the summit came as a result of
diplomatic pressure upon instructions from Palestinian President Mahmoud

`It`s obvious the decision was a result of sizable pressure,” the statement
said. The Africa-Israel summit, according to the ministry, was an Israeli
effort to `enhance Israel`s influence in the African continent and to make
the continent dependent on Israeli technology and knowledge alone.`

`The Arab League, along with the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, and
other Arab and Islamic groups and parliaments of Arab countries, have
adopted several initiatives seeking to counter and thwart that summit,` the
statement concluded.

However, sources cited by Israel’s i24 News said that Togo had concerns
about security at the summit, amid a crackdown on major anti-government
protests in the country. Anonymous diplomatic sources also told Israeli
newspaper The Jerusalem Post that the postponement had nothing to do with
international pressure or domestic internal concerns, but was solely the
result of unrest stemming from the protests.

The summit would have been the first of its kind -- and would have
reportedly been attended by two dozen heads of state including Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as 150 Israeli companies and
potentially senior officials from countries that have no diplomatic
relations with Israel.

Leaders from Africa and Israel planned to discuss ways to enhance
cooperation in the fields of technology, development, and security, with
Israeli advertised as “the global leader in the fields of security and
counter-terrorism,” offering “a validated track record of providing such
expertise to its partner nations throughout the globe.”

Mustafa Barghouti, the former Palestinian information minister and general
secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative political party, argued in
an interview with Al Jazeera that Israel was attempting to `market` their
products and surveillance services, especially at a time where the
activities of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)
movement are proving effective in curbing Israel`s economic success.

In a letter addressed to African governments, Palestinians had called for a
boycott of summit. The letter read: `African countries which fought
colonialism for decades and became free after a long suffering should never
associate themselves with the only, longest and most brutal colonial project
in the world today…in the name of justice and freedom and in the name of the
African legacy of long struggle for freedom, we ask your country to
disassociate from Israel`s Apartheid regime.”

Abbas, addressing the 28th summit of the African Union in Addis Ababa in
January, also urged African nations not to entertain relations with Israel:
“We urge you that this should not be done at the expense of the just cause
of our Palestinian people, which still needs your help to get rid of the
abhorrent Israeli occupation…(Israel is) creating a one-state reality with
an apartheid system imposed on our people.”
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