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Israeli Official Says African Nations Which Broke Ties with Israel Are Having Second Thoughts

February 2, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

African nations which broke off relations with Israel a decade ago are beginning to have second thoughts, according to an Israeli official. Avi Primor, director of African Affairs in the Foreign Ministry, told a meeting of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith that many African nations had hoped to gain favor with Arab countries by severing their ties with Israel after the Yom Kippur War, but that they now realize they have experienced “ten years of disillusionment.”

As a result, he said, those African states which are not clients of the Soviet Union, nor aligned with radical regimes like Libya, are seeking avenues to reconnect once-friendly ties with Israel as a means of spurring investments from there and other Western nations.

Primor noted that the reason stated by many Africans for severing relations with his country in 1973 was its occupation of the Sinai and an expressed desire to stand by Egypt, a member of the African “family.” But pointing out that Israel had captured the Sinai five years earlier, he offered another, unstated reason:

“The real reason was that in the early 1970’s the Arabs became masters of their oil, came to control oil prices, and became prosperous, powerful and ambitious.”


In their drive to Africa, Primor said, Arab oil nations promised an infusion of wealth into these nations, the price of which was to cut off diplomatic relations with Israel. “Africa was very much impressed by the Arabs — as is everyone by rich people,” he said. “But this is not precisely the situation today.”

He noted that in the ensuing decade, the expectations of help from Arabs have not materialized. “If they received any help from the Arabs, it was to such a low degree that it had no effect on their economy,” he remarked. Today, he said, “there is an understanding that the big hopes of 10 years ago are no longer the same.”

Primor attributed this change of view not only to the dramatic decline of demand for oil and ensuing financial woes of the Arab oil exporters, but to another “revolution” which has swept Africa.

“The Africans have matured by comparison with what they were in the first years of their independence,” he commented. In the early years, they sensed a “euphoria,” a need to solidify Third World solidarity with anti-Western rhetoric like denunciation of colonialism or neo-colonialism.

“Today, in most countries — excepting those Marxist regimes — this type of thinking is finished. The truly independent nations, those that are moderately pro-Western, understand that standing apart from the major blocs — specifically from the West — does not lead anywhere.”

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