Netanyahu arrived in Uganda on Monday, saying his country is ”returning to Africa in a big way” and urging the East African country to open an embassy in Jerusalem.
The Israeli leader was welcomed by Uganda’s prime minister at the international airport in Entebbe, where Netanyahu’s brother Yonatan was fatally struck by a bullet as he led Israeli commandos in a daring mission to rescue hijacked Israeli passengers in 1976. Israel’s success in the raid humiliated then-Ugandan President Idi Amin, under whose rule Israel closed its embassy in Uganda.
Netanyahu, who was accompanied by his wife Sara, met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. In a news conference, Netanyahu said he would open an embassy in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, if Museveni established one in Jerusalem. The Ugandan leader responded by saying his government is “studying” the matter.
Most countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv because they view the final status of Jerusalem as something that should be negotiated with the Palestinians. Trump broke with that consensus when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the U.S. Embassy there in 2018. The move infuriated the Palestinians, who cut off contacts with the U.S.
Museveni has repeatedly said Uganda supports a two-state solution to the Palestinian issue.
Last week, Trump unveiled his long-awaited Mideast peace initiative, which would allow Israel to keep all of its settlements in the West Bank and most of annexed east Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war.
The Palestinians want east Jerusalem and the West Bank as part of their future state. The Trump plan would instead grant them limited autonomy over Gaza, chunks of the West Bank and some sparsely populated areas of Israel, with a capital on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
The Palestinians have adamantly rejected the plan, and the Arab League — including Sudan — backed their position at an emergency meeting on Saturday.
Israel has long courted African support. In exchange for its expertise in security and other fields, Israel wants African states to side with it at the U.N. General Assembly and other international bodies that have long favored the Palestinians.
Reports in Israel in recent years have suggested it might normalize diplomatic relations with several Muslim countries in Africa. Israel renewed diplomatic relations with Guinea in 2016. After Netanyahu visited Chad for a renewal of ties in 2019, it was reported that Israel was working to formalize ties with Sudan.