Why Opening an Embassy in Jerusalem can help Uganda Tourism
Strengthening travel the Netanyahu-Museveni way
Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, visited Uganda a week ago where talks were held with Uganda President Yoweri Museveni at State House Entebbe. The talks called for the opening of missions in each other’s countries. Will this help Uganda Tourism?
Netanyahu last visited Uganda in July 2016 to mark the 40th anniversary of a hostage rescue code named “Operation Thunderbolt” at Entebbe airport in which his brother Yonatan had died.
“There are two things we very much want to achieve. One is direct flights from Israel to Uganda,” Netanyahu told Museveni at a joint press conference.
“And second, [if] you open an embassy in Jerusalem, I’ll open an embassy in Kampala,” he added.
Responding with diplomatic tact and aware of the ramifications, Museveni replied: “We are studying that.” He said that there is a part under the partition plan that addresses Israel. Also discussed was the possibility of direct flights between Tel Aviv and Entebbe.
Traditionally, most diplomatic missions in Israel have been in Tel Aviv as countries maintained a neutral stance over the status of Jerusalem.
“We want direct flights because that will enable our friendship to thrive,” said Netanyahu. Museveni welcomed the idea by proposing that Israeli National Carrier El Al should consider including Uganda in its destinations to benefit Uganda tourism.
US President Donald Trump shocked the world in December 2017 by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and shifting the US embassy from Tel Aviv to that city.
In recent years, Israel interest in Africa has risen in the sphere of technological and economic cooperation since the progression of peace with its neighbors in the 1990s and the reversal of severance of ties by the organization of African Union states following the Yom Kippur Israeli-Egypt war in 1973.
As of 2019, Israel has full-fledged embassies in 10 out of 54 African countries. Commercial partnerships exist with several more, following a historic pattern of economic joint ventures established in the 1950s under then Foreign Minister Golda Meir.
Uganda also has a large Christian population many of whom take annual pilgrimage to “The Holy Land.” Their leaders mainly from the “born again” sect jointly made a statement in support of Netanyahu’s proposal amidst disapproval by some politicians.