JERUSALEM (Jul. 16)
Israel has “had quite a lot of success” in its efforts to strengthen relations with Third World countries, particularly Black African states, most of which broke diplomatic ties with Israel after the 1973 Yom Kippur War and have not yet restored them, David Kimche, Director General of the Foreign Ministry, told reporters today.
“We are in a position to talk to the heads of at least 12-15 African states whenever we wish. We are in a position to talk about intimate things. We have close relations even if there are not direct diplomatic relations,” Kimche said. He also observed that Israel’s trade with many African states is flourishing, in many cases much more so than in the days Israel had full diplomatic relations with them.
According to Kimche, who has devoted considerable time and effort to improve relations with Asian and African nations, many Black African leaders privately expressed their regrets that their countries broke with Israel 15 years ago. But they are deterred from resuming formal ties for fear of losing promised or actual aid from Arab countries.
FEAR SUBVERSION BY PLO, LIBYA
In many cases, Arab promises have “far outstripped” the actual aid received, Kimche said. But some African leaders admitted to him, in their frequent but unpublicized meetings, that they feared subversion by the Palestine Liberation Organization and by Libya. “One African President with whom I met not long ago, said to me: ‘You know why I am so hesitant to re-establish relations? I don’t want to be assassinated.’”
Kimche added, “Libyan subversion is very much in the forefront of the thinking of African leaders today. They have seen the example of Chad.”
After the 1973 war, only Malawi, Lesotho and Swaziland retained diplomatic ties with Israel. Liberia and Zaire recently restored them. Israel’s hope that their example would be followed by others has failed to materialize up to now.
Nevertheless, Kimche quoted one African leader as telling him recently, “If only I hadn’t expelled the Israelis who were working in this country, our country would be looking very, very different in terms of its agriculture and its technological advances.”
Highly placed Israeli sources disclosed, meanwhile, that Egypt has ceased its earlier efforts to discourage African countries from resuming diplomatic relations with Israel. According to these sources, Egypt also advised Spain recently that it has no objections to Madrid opening diplomatic relations with Israel. The Spanish government is in fact considering such a step in advance of Spain’s formal entry into the European Economic Community (EEC) on January 1, 1986.