Netanyahu Announces Opening of New Israeli Embassy in Rwanda

The Israeli government recently made a deal with Rwanda to pay $5,000 for each asylum seeker living in Israel that the country would accept

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Netanyahu meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Nairobi, Kenya, November 28, 2017.
Netanyahu meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Nairobi, Kenya, November 28, 2017.Credit: Prime Minister Netanyahu's Twitter account
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the opening of a new Israeli embassy in Rwanda while on a state visit to Nairobi, Kenya. The Israeli government recently made a deal with Rwanda to pay $5,000 for each African asylum seeker currently living in Israel that it would accept and absorb.

Netanyahu met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame prior to the announcement.

"We are opening a new embassy in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, as part of the expanding Israeli presence in Africa and the deepening of cooperation between Israel and African countries," the Israeli premier said.

The leaders also spoke about the possibility of a direct flight route between the two countries.

Netanyahu flew to Nairobi to congratulate the newly reelected Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, and to meet with other African leaders who attended the inauguration events. Upon his departure from Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said that he hoped "that by the end of the day, I will be able to announce the opening of a new Israeli embassy in an African country, and the hand is still extended."

Netanyahu arrives in Nairobi, Kenya, November 28, 2017.Credit: Haim Zach / GPO

Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said last week that, as part of the deal with Israel, Rwanda is ready to accept around 10,000 asylum seekers who are now living in Israel.

According to the Interior Ministry, around 27,000 Eritrean nationals and 8,000 Sudanese nationals live in Israel. In August, the High Court of Justice ruled that they could be deported to a third country, but those who refused to go could not be jailed for more than two months.

However, new legislation proposed by Interior Minister Arye Dery and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan would close Holot, an open detention facility for asylum seekers, within four months and give the detainees a choice between deportation and jail.

Netanyahu landed in Nairobi a few hours after Kenya’s reelected President Uhuru Kenyatta was inaugurated. Kenyatta personally received Netanyahu at the president's residence and invited the Israeli prime minister to sit next to him at a luncheon that followed the inauguration.

The Israeli premier had scheduled a marathon series of afternoon meetings Tuesday with African delegations that attended the inaugural events, including the presidents of Gabon, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda, South Sudan, Botswana and Namibia, as well as the prime minister of Ethiopia.

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