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Nigeria Sets Conditions for Resuming Diplomatic Ties with Israel

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Nigeria is prepared to restore diplomatic relations with Israel following Israeli withdrawal “from all occupied Arab territories” and its breaking of links with South Africa, the World Jewish Congress reported today.

The Nigerian head of state, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, set forth these conditions during formal remarks delivered last week in Lagos. His remarks, broadcast by Lagos Home Service, were monitored here by sources of the WJC.

According to the broadcast, Buhari said there were “two major conditions” for the restoration of diplomatic relations with Israel: “One of the conditions is the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied Arab territories, particularly the recognition of the right of the Palestinians to a homeland. The other is the breaking of Israeli military, nuclear and economic collaboration with the apartheid regime in South Africa.”

Buhari, speaking at the annual dinner of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs in Lagos, said that “it was inconceivable that the Jewish people who have been victims of racial horrors and genocide, could now provide weapons of death and oppression to the apartheid regime.” He added that South Africa remains the greatest threat to Nigeria’s national interest.

An analyst of the WJC Third World Department suggested that Buhari’s comments were significant in two respects. Firstly, the fact that the Nigerian leader publicly raised the issue of renewing relations with Israel is viewed as in and of itself significant. Secondly, although he referred to the “Palestinians” he did not mention the PLO, nor was there any reference to a “Palestinian state” but rather a “homeland.”

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