Wednesday, February 21, 2018
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Israel to set up fund for poor states to gain support

Purported move follows overwhelming UN General Assembly vote rejecting US recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to establish a $50m fund to support development in poorer countries and get the country diplomatic backing, according to Israeli media reports.

If the report by Israel's Channel 2 and other outlets is confirmed, the move comes just a week after the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to reject the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Just eight states voted with Israel against the resolution, with 35 abstentions and 128 states voting in favour of the motion, which was authored by Turkey and Yemen. 

The fund would seek to utilise Israeli expertise in agriculture, leadership development, and technology, the Times of Israel reported.

Regions targeted in the diplomatic push include Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Israel has been looking to strengthen its relationship with African states in recent years with Netanyahu touring East Africa in 2016 and the western part of the continent the following year.

Strengthening ties

Speaking in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, in July, the Israeli leader said: "I believe in Africa, I believe in its potential - present and future. It is a continent on the rise."

Strengthening Israel's ties with the continent was a top priority, Netanyahu went on to add.

Whether Israel succeeds in turning economic aid into actual diplomatic support remains to be seen, as several African states that voted in favour of the UN motion, such as Kenya and Ethiopia, enjoy close ties with Tel Aviv. 

Besides Israel and the US, Guatemala, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo voted against.

On Monday, Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said 10 countries were considering following US President Donald Trump's decision by moving their embassies to Jerusalem.

She did not specify the countries in question but said "some" of them are "in Europe".

On Sunday, Guatemala announced that it would move its embassy to the Holy City, the eastern side of which internationally recognised to be Palestinian territory illegally occupied by Israel. 

Israel annexed East Jerusalem after the 1967 war, a move rejected by the UN and the international community. 

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