Menu JTA Search

Israel to Close Embassy in Uganda; Not Seen As Break in Diplomatic Relations

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Israel will close its Embassy in Kampala, Uganda, by next Friday, two days ahead of the deadline set by President Idi Amin last week when he ordered the withdrawal of the Israeli diplomatic mission to his country. The first group of Israeli Embassy officials returned here last night. Ambassador Daniel Laor and the rest of his staff are expected home by Friday. Also expected home by the end of the week are the last of the Israeli civilian employes and their families in Uganda.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has asked Italy to handle Israeli interests in the East African country although there has been no formal break yet in diplomatic relations between Israel and Uganda. Amin did not announce a break when he ordered the Israeli Embassy closed and some Israeli officials claim that closing down the Embassy does not necessarily mean the termination of diplomatic relations with Uganda. However, other officials believe a formal break will come any day.

Withdrawal of Israel’s diplomatic mission followed last week’s evacuation of the Israeli military mission from Uganda at Amin’s demand. He had accused Israeli personnel of constituting a fifth column that was trying to overthrow his regime.

In addition to the diplomatic and military missions, several hundred Israelis were employed by private firms on various construction projects in Uganda. These projects were terminated by Amin last week and most of the employes and their families have returned to Israel. The Israeli interests which Italy has been asked to look after in Uganda include heavy mechanical equipment left behind on the Interrupted construction work and a debt of some $20 million owed Israel by Uganda.

NEXT STORY