The Israeli Foreign Ministry has failed to confirm whether Zambia will host the Africa-Israel summit.
President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi, told the Zambian state-owned television station, “For whatever reason, we have been given the mandate to host this summit which will bring its own benefits to Zambia.”
President Edgar Lungu, who met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week at the re-inauguration ceremonies for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi, told ZNBC that “For whatever reason, we have been given the mandate to host this summit which will bring its own benefits to Zambia.”
President Lungu said Prime Minister Netanyahu had asked Zambia to host an Africa-Israel summit that was originally scheduled for Togo in September.
President Lungu said that one of the reasons he went to Kenyatta’s swearing-in ceremony was because Netanyahu wanted to meet him, and that “it was during his bilateral engagement with Prime Minister Netanyahu that the Israeli PM revealed his desire to see Zambia host the summit instead of Togo as it was earlier planned
The summit in Togo last September was expected to draw the leaders of between 20 to 25 African states to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and was cancelled at the last minute because of domestic problems in that West African state.
But information emerging from Israel indicate that there were discussions in Jerusalem about holding a similar summit there instead.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry did not confirm on Sunday that a summit would be held in Zambia, with a spokesman saying only that the ministry was “looking into” President Lungu’s comments.
President Lungu visited the country in February, along with a large delegation of government ministers. After the trip, he told Zambian media that Zambia stands to reap substantial benefits from the visit.
“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,” he said.
Zambia is one of the few African countries with a military attaché in Israel. It opened an embassy there in 2015
Israel does not have an embassy in Zambia.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said, after meeting President Lungu, that Israel hopes 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.”
At the Jewish community in Zambia’s peak, some 1,000 Jews lived in the country, though that number has dwindled to about 30 today.
There are three Jewish cemeteries in Zambia.