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Netanyahu to attend West African summit in latest successful Israeli outreach initiative to Africa

Posted by Tip Staff - July 28, 2016


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to attend a summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Nigeria later this year, The Jerusalem Post reported Thursday. The Prime Minister met Thursday in his office with ECOWAS’ president, Marcel Alain de Souza, where the two signed a joint declaration of intent for greater cooperation. Israeli Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold said that the meeting “brings the Prime Minister’s [Africa] initiative, that started with east African countries like Kenya and Ethiopia, to the western part of the continent.” Both parties “positively viewed the participation of the prime minister of the State of Israel in the ECOWAS summit in the near future,” they said in the declaration. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who also met with de Souza, added that Israel and African nations “have excellent cooperation and we welcome the opportunity for Israel to contribute from its knowledge and abilities in the field of health, water, and agriculture – a sign of the friendship between us.”
In related developments, an African Christian delegation was in Jerusalem Wednesday to give an award to Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky. “We believe that Africa’s future depends on our connection to Israel...We have a great deal to learn from the Israeli people and we believe that we have a great deal to offer in return,” said Nigerian pastor Olusegun Olanipekun. South African pastor Linda Godobo, the founder of the Vuka Africa Foundation, explained to Sharanksy that she and her foundation had organized “the largest rally in the world to support Israel during the summer conflict with Hamas in 2014,” when 12,000 people demonstrated in Johannesburg in support of Israel.
These two events are the latest examples of Israel’s successful diplomatic outreach  to Africa. Netanyahu visited Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia earlier this month. Weeks later, the Republic of Guinea, a Muslim-majority African nation, restored diplomatic ties with Israel after a 49-year break. Netanyahu has made it a priority to strengthen Israel’s commercial, diplomatic, and security relations with African countries. Israel has a long history of sharing its expertise with African countries. Jerusalem hopes that increased ties with African nations will lead to a shift in their voting trends at the UN and other global fora, thus improving Israel’s diplomatic standing and reversing what Netanyahu called “the automatic majority against Israel.”


The bombing of four hospitals by the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad “could amount to war crimes,” UNICEF said in a statement on Tuesday.
Four hospitals and a blood bank in the rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo were hit by airstrikes on Sunday and Monday, targeting facilities that provided “key life-saving health services for up to 300,000 civilians,” UNICEF said. A two-day-old baby was reported to have been killed in his incubator when the bombing interrupted his oxygen supply. The baby was in the only pediatric hospital in the city, which was hit by airstrikes twice in the space of 12 hours.
UNICEF’s statement didn’t identify the party responsible for the bombing, but of all the actors in the Syrian civil war, only Assad and his ally Russia have aircraft.
“Health facilities in Syria are being attacked with alarming ferocity,” UNICEF continued, citing the World Health Organization’s estimate that 40 hospitals have been attacked this year. Sixty percent of Syria’s hospitals are believed to be closed or only partially operational. Airstrikes on an Aleppo hospital and medical clinic killed dozens of people in April, including the city’s last pediatrician.
Bloomberg News reported Wednesday that government forces have cut off the last rebel supply lines into Aleppo, trapping an estimated 275,000 people in the eastern part of the city, leading to fears of a humanitarian crisis. The United Nations’s humanitarian chief has called for weekly 48-hour humanitarian pauses in the fighting, warning that food supplies could run out by the middle of August.
The Assad regime has frequently used sieges as a tactic against civilians since the civil war began in 2011. NGOs reported earlier this month that around 65 people have died of starvation in the city of Madaya since the regime’s siege began one year ago.
The Commission for International Justice and Accountability, an independent group operating in Europe, has begun collecting evidence of war crimes committed by the Assad regime. The UN formally accused Assad in February of carrying out the “extermination” of prisoners. The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a resolution in March calling for a war crimes tribunal to prosecute Assad and his allies, including Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. (via TheTower.org)

A unique financial technology startup hub housed at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange aims to put Israel on the global map in the hot field of fintech. Officially opening at the end of July following a launch party on June 29, The Floor will host 25 fintech companies at a time, developing technologies for digital banking and payments, capital markets, big-data analytics, blockchain (the technology behind cryptocurrency), banking IoT, compliance and anti-fraud. Among The Floor’s founders are some of the world’s largest banks: RBS, Banco Santander, HSBC and Intesa Sanpaolo. Accenture, Intel and KPMG are strategic partners. The Chinese-Israeli Pando Group plans to invest up to $250 million in Israeli startups in The Floor, beginning with a preliminary $2 million seed investment. “We have an international focus,” says The Floor CEO Avi Cohen, formerly a scout for fintech and retail-tech for the British government. “When we were looking to set up the hub, we noticed that the Israeli ecosystem doesn’t have the advantage of a local presence of multiple international banks, so we are trying to bring those banks to Israel as our partners.” The IVC Research Center identifies 477 fintech companies in Israel, accounting for 7 percent of all active Israeli companies. (via Israel21c)


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