JERUSALEM (Dec. 18)
Israel, without fanfare, reopened its embassy in Addis Ababa on Monday, signaling the restoration of diplomatic relations after 16 years.
The event was confirmed by a Foreign Ministry official, after a story in the French daily Le Figaro said it was imminent.
No explanation was given for the extremely low-key nature of this development.
Nor would officials comment on recent foreign reports that Israel is providing weapons and training for the Ethiopians against Eritrean rebels, or that Israelis would man an intelligence-gathering station on the Ethiopian coast.
Officials stressed, however, that Israel’s top priority in Ethiopia is to resume the emigration of Jews, which was halted when the “Operation Moses” airlift from Sudan had to be abandoned in early 1985.
The embassy in Addis Ababa will be headed for the time being by a charge d’affaires, Meir Yoffe.
Ethiopia, like most African nations, broke relations with Israel in an act of solidarity with Egypt after the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
But relations have improved in recent years. A ranking emissary of President Mengistu Haile Mariam visited Israel in October and announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations.