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

A spokesperson for Somalia’s president said on Saturday that the government is set to consult parliament on the possibility of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, Hebrew media reported.

Reports by Channel 12 news and Kan news could not be immediately verified.

Somalia media reports last month claimed President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud recently held contacts with Israeli officials while on a trip to the United Arab Emirates, even flying to Israel, according to one report. These reports were denied.

Mohamud secretly met with former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel in 2016 while serving his first stint in office, which ended in 2017.

Upon his reelection to the job 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 does not have diplomatic relations with the East African nation, which has a population of some 11 million. Somalia, a mostly Sunni Muslim country and a member of the Arab League, has never recognized the State of Israel.

There have been sporadic reports in recent years 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 officials from Somalia, according to a senior official close to Mohamud.

The report on possible normalization with Somalia comes against a backdrop of 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, an autonomous, relatively stable region of the country, recently told US officials he was making overtures to Israel but without any response.

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

In May, Israel’s embassy in France organized a conference, inviting French and African journalists, diplomats, entrepreneurs, and artists to examine the future of Israel’s cooperation with African countries and businesses.

Somaliland was represented at the conference by its defense minister.

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

Lazar Berman contributed to this report.

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