NewsEast & Horn AfricaIsrael to re-open embassy in Uganda


Posted on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 16:18

Israel to re-open embassy in Uganda

By Godfrey Olukya

Israel will soon re-open its embassy in Uganda, as is seeks to strengthen its relations with Kampala.


Israel closed its embassy in Uganda in the 1970s when its relationship with the late strongman, Idi Amin turned sour.

Amin had expelled all Israelis in Uganda, after expressing his support for Palestine.

Israel's ambassador to East Africa, Gil Haskel hinted on his country's readiness to re-open its embassy, saying relations had improved since the Amin era.

"Now that the two countries have a cordial relationship, we do not see why the embassy is not reopened as a way of strengthening the relationship," Gil said.

In a speech last week during Israel's 65 years anniversary, Gil said his country would help Uganda benefit from its expertise in agricultural and water management technologies.

"Uganda has sufficient amount of waters that come down from the sky and fill the rivers annually, there is no reason why any area in Uganda should be arid, semi-arid or fail to enjoy sufficient water for irrigation and domestic usage," said Haskel.

Speculation on the reopening of the embassy has drawn excitement from a cross section of Ugandans and farmers have expressed hopes for an agricultural boost.

One of the biggest challenges facing Uganda's largely traditional agriculture sector is its underdeveloped infrastructure, something pointed out by John Joseph Otim, advisor on agriculture to Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni in an interview with The Africa Report last year.

"We are informed that although Israel does not have fertile soil, they use irrigation to produce enough food. We [could] benefit a lot from Israel's food production technology," Trever Okelo a leader of a northern Ugandan farmers' group said.

In 1976 Israeli soldiers stormed Entebbe Airport to rescue Jews who were aboard a hijacked Air France flight. Amin seemed to support the hijacking, souring the previously cordial relations between Uganda and Israel.

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