JERUSALEM (Apr. 9)
President Idi Amin of Uganda announced tonight that he has decided to break diplomatic relations with Israel. Israel’s official reaction is expected to be stated by Foreign Minister Abba Eban at a press conference tomorrow morning on the break with Uganda. Israel closed its Embassy in Kampala yesterday and the last Israelis have left that East African country including Ambassador Daniel Laor.
Meanwhile, the leaders of several African countries have expressed astonishment over Uganda’s sudden switch from a policy of friendship toward Israel to one of outright hostility. According to reliable sources, African leaders have told the Israeli ambassadors in their countries that they do not believe Amin’s claim that Israeli agents were trying to topple his regime. Observers here believe Uganda’s actions are isolated and are not likely to influence other African nations that have friendly relations with Israel.
Laor was in Nairobi, Kenya today where he will remain for several days to wind up affairs. He attributed Uganda’s new hostility toward Israel to an offer of money by Libya. Amin preferred Libyan money to Israel’s friendship.
Laor said in a telephone interview with the newspaper Yediot Achronot. “In my worst nightmares I could not foresee that Idi Amin who was considered my personal friend and a friend of Israel would do such a thing to us.” Laor said.
Amin’s change of attitude was first manifested two months ago when he visited Libya and signed a joint communique with Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi demanding Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories. Two weeks ago he ordered the withdrawal of Israel’s military and diplomatic missions from Uganda. Laor reported that Egyptian and Libyan missions have already arrived in Kampala but predicted they could not replace the Israeli experts who have been ousted.