Several news articles were published in early December indicating that Zambian President Edgar Lungu has agreed to host a summit meeting between African Union (AU) member-states and the State of Israel.
These reports first surfaced during the inauguration ceremony for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi. President Lungu attended the second induction into office by Kenyatta who is the leader of East Africa’s largest economy.
Lungu met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the Kenyatta inauguration events. The Zambian leader was photographed shaking hands with Netanyahu during the meeting.
A similar summit was scheduled earlier in 2017 in the West African state of Togo. However, mass demonstrations by Togolese opposition parties and coalitions demanding the resignation of the government of President Faure Gnassingbe for undemocratic practices forced Lome to postpone the announced summit.
Lungu paid a state visit to Israel in February 2017. The president was accompanied by a large delegation of ministers from his administration.
After his return to Zambia, Lungu was quoted in the Lusaka Times as saying:
“Israel is a pacesetter in survival instinct because it has a desert; but they have a thriving education, agriculture and information, and communication technology sectors and we can explore and learn from them. A lot of benefits are expected out of this trip.”
No statement was recorded in the same publication which cites the plight of the Palestinian people who share a similar history with Africans as it relates to colonialism and imperialism. Israel under successive leaders since 1948 has collaborated with the same white supremacist forces which conquered, exploited and oppressed African people and their descendants throughout the world.
The Lusaka Times then quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while he was in Kenya for the inauguration of Kenyatta as emphasizing in regard to Zambia that Tel Aviv’s aim was to:
“Deepen its cooperation with the country, which I think is important for both our countries and both our peoples. I know that you’re opening a Jewish history museum in Zambia and soon a synagogue in the capital city. I hope one day I have the opportunity to visit those institutions and to visit Zambia.”
The Republic of South Africa under the ruling African National Congress (ANC) continues to be a bulwark of sentiment in favor of the recognition of an independent Palestinian state. This mood has existed in the Republic of Zimbabwe as well during the 37-year presidency of Robert Mugabe, the former leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front Party (ZANU-PF).
When on December 6, U.S. President Donald Trump issued his executive order to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem mass demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinian people have been held throughout the world. The three leading alliance partners in South Africa, the ANC, South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) have all issued statements decrying the policy decisions of Trump.
The U.S. government is the staunchest supporter of the State of Israel providing billions of dollars in assistance and military hardware on an annual basis. Egypt, due to military and political considerations ranks as the second largest recipient of direct aid from Washington. However, Africa as a whole can in no way compare to the economic, military and diplomatic support which is received by Israel irrespective of the fact that people of African descent in the U.S. are numbered in excess of 40 million inhabitants.
Consequently, the holding of an Israel-Africa Summit in Zambia would represent a tremendous setback in the progressive legacy of independent states on the continent. At this critical stage in international relations, AU member countries should be intensifying their cooperation with other fraternal governments and peoples on the continent and indeed throughout the world.
This article first appeared on Global Search and can be accessed here.