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Somali Leaders play diplomatic footsie with Israel

JERUSALEM (SD) – Israeli media quoted a Somali diplomat that the Somali president is expected to discuss with parliament the possibility of establishing diplomatic relations with the state of Israel, a first for the Muslim country.

The diplomat, who is close to President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, told the Times of Israel that President Sheikh’s return to power is a positive development for a new relationship between Mogadishu and Jerusalem.

Israel has no diplomatic relations with either with the yet to be recognised Somaliland or Somalia, a Sunni Muslim country and a member of the Arab League, which also does not recognize Israel as a state.

Somali media reported last month that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud recently made contact with Israeli officials during a trip to the United Arab Emirates, with some also reporting that he visited Israel.

The Somali presidency vehemently denied those reports.

In December 2015, a conference in Jerusalem was attended by the Israeli Ministry of Economy and officials from the then Somali government of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

According to the newspaper, in May this year, the Israeli embassy in France organized a conference attended by diplomats, journalists and businessmen, which focused on cooperation between Israel and African countries, and Somaliland was represented by its Minister of Defense at the conference.

Meanwhile, Channel 12 in Israel reported that Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi, who visited Washington earlier this year, had discussed with US officials that Somaliland wanted relations with Israel, but that Tel Aviv had not responded to Somaliland.

The news comes as Al Shabaab is expanding its presence in Somalia, the militant group rejects all foreign interventions and relations with non-Muslim countries.

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