JERUSALEM (Jan. 4)
Niger today became the fourth African state – the second in a week – to break diplomatic relations with Israel. The Foreign Ministry announced today that the Israeli diplomatic representative in Niger, Shlomo Avital, was summoned by the Niger Foreign Minister to receive a letter for Foreign Minister Abba Eban advising Israel of the break.
An Israeli spokesman said that there was nothing in the relations between Niger and Israel that could have justified this move. Brazaville Congo announced its diplomatic break with Israel last Sunday. In recent months both Chad and Uganda severed their ties with Israel.
Israeli officials have attributed the series of diplomatic set-backs in Africa to pressure by Arab countries and to a general wave of “radicalization” that seems to be sweeping Black Africa. The Foreign Ministry announced two weeks ago that Israel had decided to downgrade its representation in Niger and the resident ambassador, Yehoshua Rash, was transferred to neighboring Togo.
Reliable sources said at the time that the move was intended to avert a complete break by lowering Israel’s profile in Niger and minimizing Arab pressure thereby. Libya was said to have been applying pressure on Niger to break with Israel and accompanying its pressure with financial blandishments. Eban told the Knesset yesterday that the recent setbacks in-Africa stemmed from external pressures rather than the unpopularity of Israel’s Middle East stance among African states.