Israel, Senegal Mend Diplomatic Ties Marred by UN Settlement Vote

Israel also likely to announce in the coming days the end of its crisis with New Zealand and the return of its ambassador to Wellington, official says

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Senegal’s President Macky Sall in Liberia.
Kobi Gideon/GPO

Israel and Senegal announced on Sunday that the crisis in their relationship has been resolved, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the president of Senegal on the sidelines of the ECOWAS summit in Liberia.

The crisis erupted six months ago because Senegal was one of the four countries that pushed for a UN Security Council vote on a resolution against the settlements in December 2016.

The Prime Minister’s Bureau said that pursuant to the understandings Netanyahu reached with Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, Israel will immediately return Ambassador Paul Hirschson to the Senegalese capital of Dakar after more than five months of absence. Senegal, for its part, promised to support Israel’s bid to be granted observer status in the African Union.

Israel and Senegal will also resume the joint projects that Israel suspended to protest Senegal’s move at the UN, the Prime Minister's Bureau said, adding that the two have agreed to expand cooperation on security and agriculture. In addition, Netanyahu invited Senegal’s foreign minister to visit Israel, after a previously planned visit was canceled due to the crisis.

A senior Israeli official said that Israel was also likely to announce in the coming days the end of its crisis with New Zealand and the return of its ambassador to Wellington. That crisis also erupted over the UN resolution on settlements, since New Zealand was another of the four countries that pushed for a vote on it. A few weeks ago, New Zealand’s new foreign minister sent a letter to Netanyahu expressing his desire to turn over a new leaf in the bilateral relationship.

During his visit to the Economic Community of West African States summit, which took place in the Liberian capital of Monrovia, Netanyahu also met with the president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Mali is a Muslim country with which Israel has no diplomatic relations. The Prime Minister’s Bureau said the two had agreed to “warm relations" between the two countries.