Report: Somali president plans talks with parliament on possible ties with Israel

A spokesman for the Somali president said on Saturday that the government was preparing to consult parliament on the possibility of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, Hebrew media reported.

Channel 12 news and Kan news reports could not immediately be verified.

Somali media reported last month that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud recently had contact with Israeli officials during a trip to the United Arab Emirates, even flying to Israel, according to a report. These reports have been denied.

Mohamud secretly met former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel in 2016 while serving his first term, which ended in 2017.

Upon his re-election to the post in May, a Somali diplomat close to Mohamud told The Times of Israel that his return to power was a positive development for a potential normalization process between Mogadishu and Jerusalem.

Israel has no diplomatic relations with the East African country, which has some 11 million inhabitants. Somalia, a predominantly Sunni Muslim country and member of the Arab League, has never recognized the State of Israel.

In recent years, there have been sporadic reports of growing ties between Israel and Somalia.

A lower-level meeting was held in Jerusalem in December 2015, involving representatives from the economy ministry and Somali officials, according to a senior official close to Mohamud.

The report on possible normalization with Somalia comes amid flourishing official ties between Israel and some Arab countries, as well as a push by Israel to strengthen its ties in Africa.

In addition to developments with Somalia, Channel 12 reported that Muse Bihi Abdi, president of Somaliland, a relatively stable autonomous region in the country, recently told US officials he was making overtures to Israel, but no response. .

Simon Seroussi, spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in France (L), Magatte Seye, Senegalese envoy to France, Ben Bourgel, Israeli envoy to Senegal, and Anne-Sophie Sebban-Bécache, director of the AJC Paris, speak at the Israel Back to Africa summit in Paris, May 31, 2022. (MFA)

In May, the Israeli Embassy in France organized a conference, inviting French and African journalists, diplomats, entrepreneurs and artists to examine the future of Israeli cooperation with African countries and companies.

Somaliland was represented at the conference by its Minister of Defence.

The Abraham Accords, a joint declaration of peace originally signed on September 15, 2020, formally normalized diplomatic relations between Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Israel. In December 2020, Morocco and Israel signed a normalization agreement, establishing full diplomatic relations. Then, in January 2021, Sudan signed the accords, symbolically declaring its intention to advance normalization with Israel.

Lazar Berman contributed to this report.

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