Subchapter 2: Multilateral forums
Voting behaviours 1958-73
In the early 1960s, with an exception of Casablanca group. pro-Israeli sentiments were on the rise. In the UN, until 1967, the Arab-Israeli issue had not been raised frequently. Rodin shows that while until 1962, three new states had joined the Arab camp in their voting patterns, seven had joined pro-Israeli group, tipping the balance from 48 to 58% votes cast in a pro-Israeli way. This again dropped to 48% in 1965, which Rodin associated with decline in number of Israeli development experts. Still, most of the countries almost automatically had voted in a pro-Israel way until the mid-1967. SSA countries joined the Israeli effort of convincing Arab states to enter into negotiations. A 1961 initiative by 12 countries, including CAR, Congo. Gabon. Ivory Coast. Liberia, Niger. Sierra Leone and Upper Volta (Togo signed-up initially, but later withdrew), for a UNGA resolution calling for negotiations was however rejected by Arabs, Soviets and the US alike, as was the 1962 draft (proposed by 21 states—12 from Africa). Subsequent drafts were even not allowed to be voted upon. Still, Israelis were elected to several UN posts as representatives of the Afro-Asian block. In the run-up to the 1967 war, Nigeria and Uganda were among the six initiators of a UNSC resolution calling Syria to take stronger precautions against border incidents (draft vetoed by the USSR).47
On the multilateral African forums, instances of anti-Israeli language were rare. Sub-Saharan states consequently refused being drawn into Arab-Israeli issues. In the 1958 First Conference of Independent African States, they declined to include Israel on the list of condemned, racist and imperialist powers. Egypt, sensing the trend, even at times resigned from proposing certain drafts. At the OAU, the issue of Arab-Israeli relations was seen as polarising. African states refused to deal with it at the 1963 summit. Even if mild anti-Israeli resolutions were adopted, this was followed by African diplomats’ assurances to Israel that this did not affect their relationship. At the 1964 Cairo Summit, the Arab League members made comparisons between Israel and South Africa and between the Palestine Liberation Army and African liberation movements—with no positive reaction from sub-Saharan states. At the 1967 summit following the Six-Day War, there was strong opposition against raising the issue, with some sub-Saharans threatening that they would not attend the meeting if the point was raised. It was raised, “by trickery”; yet the eventual resolution was not condemnatory and caused protests as voted against the rules.48
With sub-Saharan countries comprising 32 of 122 UN members and only 4 of them openly pro-Arab. Israeli position came June 1967 was strong. Indeed, already before the 1967 war, Cameroon, Dahomey, Ethiopia, Kenya. Liberia. Nigeria and Togo expressed concern with the closure of the Strait of Tiran. When the war broke out, Guinea and Somalia proposed an emergency meeting of the OAU, yet it was rejected. In the UNGA discussions following the war, countries had the choice between mostly pro- (by Latin American block) and anti-Israeli (Yugoslav) drafts. A total of 20 out of 32 SSA countries backed the Latin draft, linking Israeli withdrawal from territories with ending Arab hostility and Arab agreement to negotiations aimed at peace. The contrary Yugoslav proposal called for a unilateral Israeli withdrawal. According to Rodin, the bunch of votes taken on the occasion reflected East-West competition, and most of the drafts wouldn’t pass the two-thirds majority test even if African countries had voted against Israel. Still, the votes testified to non-existence of Asian-African block and to a good diplomatic position of Israel on the African continent, as 15 states were subsequently classified as pro-Israeli. 5 as neutral and 11 as pro-Arab.49
A similar analysis was done by Kochan, Gitelson and Dubek, who calculated behaviours of 33 sub-Saharan countries in 34 draft resolutions voted by 39 roll-call votes. The most pro-Israeli countries turned out to be Liberia, Malawi, Lesotho and Madagascar with above 50% of votes in line with Israeli interests. The most (over 90% votes) anti-Israeli ones were Mali, Guinea, Tanzania, followed by Burundi, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia (above 65%). Since abstentions were in practice countering Egypt, the countries like Gambia, Ghana, Gabon, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Togo, Upper Volta and Zaire were described as moderately pro-Israel. An analysis of factors behind states’ voting patterns showed that the most anti-Israeli ones were those with strong relationships to and neighbouring Arab states, with weak or none relation to Israel, Muslim populations and radical foreign policies. Pro-Israeli ones were those which had good ties with Israel and the West, moderate foreign policies, small or politically inactive Muslim populations, led by Christians, with embassies in Israel. As regards Israeli development aid, it is concluded that it had no significant impact on voting behaviour.50
The 1967 votes showed decline of Israel’s status in Eastern Africa, with Tanzania (already under Chinese influences) and Uganda moving to the Arab camp (backed the Yugoslavian proposal and opposed the Latin American), Kenya undecided (backed both) and only Ethiopia presenting pro-Israel stance (backed Latin draft, abstained on Yugoslavian). Many countries underlined Israel’s right to exist, but having own borders challenged, were fearful of any precedents of the acquisition of territory by force. Tanzania’s position, which was a displeasing surprise in Israel since it was among the main receivers of aid, was explained by the wish to project revolutionary image, as was Uganda’s; Senegal’s—by its willingness to align with neighbouring, radically pro-Arab countries. Nigerian government’s anti-Israeli stance was reportedly criticised by the press.51
The 1967 war, resulting in change of Israel’s image “from David into Goliath” and most importantly, emergence of the question of occupied Egyptian territories, led to slow corrosion of Israeli stance on the continent. The issue of occupation of Sinai—a territory of an African country—could not be ignored by SSA, although Arab-Israeli conflict was still not of its interest. Demanding Israel to end the violation of a principle which was basic for SSA did not automatically translate in support for Palestinian demands. During September 1967 Heads of State meeting in Kinshasa, the issue was discussed openly for the first time. A “last minute resolution” passed, referring the crises to be solved by the UN, but also reaffirming principle of territorial integrity and voicing concern with the situation in Egypt. Egypt failed in al967 effort to brand Israel as an “aggressor”, which it however accomplished already a year later. From that time, the snowball started to roll, although not all resolutions had harsh anti-Israeli language, rather resorting to expression of support for Egypt; those which had, were often adopted with breach of rules of procedure. In 1968, a Council of Ministers’ resolution called for Israeli immediate and unconditional withdrawal from all the occupied territories, thus went beyond the purposely ambiguous English version of the UNSC 242 resolution, which did not specify the extent of the withdrawal. Adoption did not take account of protests by Ghana and Ivory Coast, demanding that the call for withdrawal should be accompanied by a demand that Arab states recognise Israel and its security needs. Notably, the resolution was rejected by the subsequent Heads of State summit, which adopted a significantly milder wording. In 1970, Arab efforts to brand Israel as “racist” and to finance Palestinians as “African liberation movement” were blocked. Yet later on that year a resolution passed, drafted by Senegal, as a part of a separate agenda point, calling on Israeli withdrawal. The harsh 1971 summit resolution adopted in the context of calls for pan-African unity, followed by a similar one in 1972, was a prelude to what happened in 1973.52
The turning point might have been the failed 1971 mission of the African leaders, meant to reinvigorate the process led by the UN special envoy Gunnar Jarring. The mission of four heads of state (Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal and Zaire, selected out of a ten-member committee, which included also Ethiopia, Ivory Coast. Kenya, Mauritania, Liberia and Tanzania), delegated by the OAU and supported by both the US and the USSR, was seen by its participants as a genuine effort of mediation. The available sources state that the report presented by them after return from talks in Egypt and Israel was balanced, recommending achievement of secure borders through the UN-mediated negotiations, with safeguards such as demilitarised zones and peacekeeping forces and terms of Israeli withdrawals included in peace agreements. This did not satisfy Arab demand for immediate withdrawal and as Israel’s distrust of Jarring persisted (he didn’t treat the 242 resolution as a package deal, as it was intended, but tried a piece-meal and inflexible approach requiring Israeli unilateral withdrawal to proceed any gestures of the Arab side), the mission did not bring sides’ agreement on resumption of Jarring’s mission. Moreover, some committee members—particularly Mauritania—promoted own, much less balanced draft, accepting major demands of the Arabs. It went unopposed by other members, increasingly disappointed with Israel’s stiff position and passed as the UNGA resolution 2799—thanks to Arab call for the “Third World” unity around it, a unity which African states needed in cases more directly related to their interests. In the long run, it was the moment when Arab-Israeli conflict in its entirety started to matter to SSA; including its Palestinian dimension, which became a dominant one, associated with—due to the way Arab states were portraying it and playing it diplomatically—to the issue of South Africa. Another push was when Libya threatened Ethiopia, and Algerian president called for collective break of relations with Israel as an act of continent’s unity. Kenya’s opposition (Daily Nation, May 15, 1973) argued that once the OAU became a tool for anti-Israeli action, it would cease to be a unifying force helping to connect the people.53
A study by Gitelson on the entire “golden era” period showed no correlation between amounts of aid and voting patterns, with some countries voting with Israel despite drops in aid, while others voted against it while aid was rising—and instances of aid rising despite worsening voting patterns. Some correlation was found only during the very last years of relations. Since this was already the time of gradual rationalisation and related scaling down of Israeli engagement, it can be assumed that the correlation resulted from crystallisation of the strongest bonds, where aid and political proximity went together, yet cannot be said to be causal either way. In the period under consideration, aid was conducive to good relations but not a decisive factor. Manis’s detailed study of bilateral relations and foreign policies showed no correlation between aid and international behaviour in the case of Ghana. Somewhat more relevance was found in the case of Ethiopia, yet the study omits the Christian factor, so the conclusion might be overestimated. Malawi did not receive much aid, but was very pro-Israeli; Liberia was pro-Western anyway. In the case of Nigeria, aid had no effect at all on its anti-Israel position. Tanzania was from early on politically close to Arabs and China and aid did not change it. Yet it could be observed that Israeli development aid was a substantial part of foreign policy efforts, and without it, relations could have been much different.54
International behaviours following events of 1973
Around 1973, the following factors gained ground: Libyan expansionism (seducing Uganda, blackmailing war-ridden Chad and bankrupt Niger); growing indebtedness of sub-Saharan states that led them to seek financial aid rather than capacity building; sensitivity to the instances of intrusion of foreign military powers; radicalisation of SSA rhetoric and politics; Israel’s refusal to back expulsion of South Africa from international organisations.55
The resolution adopted by the OAU in May 1973 points to the occupation of territory of Egypt and of other Arab states, condemns Israeli intransigence, declares any changes on the territories void and calls on Israel to withdraw. It says that there is no guarantee for peace and progress when any part of the continent is under foreign occupation. It does not however contain a call for breaking of relations: it “declares that the attitude of Israel might lead the OAU Member States to take, at the African level, individually or collectively, political and economic measures against it, in conformity with the principles contained in the OAU and the UN Charters”.56 It was only after the Yom Kippur war and actual severance of relations that another resolution was adopted—at the extraordinary session of the Council of Ministers in November 1973—that called for maintenance of the state of no relations until the demands were met. Of note, literature tends to simplify this by saying that the rupture of relations was caused by the OAU resolution calling for severance of relations, which is thus not exactly the case. The resolution also contained harsh language of struggle against colonialism, apartheid and Zionism. The case was a precedent as the will of the OAU dominated sovereign foreign policies of the states, contradicting interests of many. Some influence could have been exerted by the OAU Chairman. Muslim Nigerian Yakubu Gowon, who had uneasy relations with Israel. Interestingly, many accounts testify that the African leaders did not treat breaking of relations as something serious. While some quickly expelled Israeli experts, others expected aid programmes to continue—and were genuinely surprised that it was not possible. The only case when a plea for experts to stay was accepted was CAR. At the same time, 1974 and 1975 OAU summits hosted Yassir Arafat and declared Israel a racist regime originating in imperialism, as the South African one. Still there existed some opposition; Zambia Daily Mad on March 25, 1975 asked rhetorically “when any of the leaders of African liberation movements was invited to address the summit of the Arab League”.57
Pushed this far by Arab demands, sub-Saharans were tested to go further. The 1976 adoption of a UNGA resolution which mentioned Zionism as a form of racism crushed all remaining hopes for restoration of relations and understanding for African diplomacies on the Israeli side. The phrase regarding Zionism was added at the latest stage of the works on the resolution. A total of 72 countries voted for the resolution, including 27 African ones. Importantly, 17 states did not support the resolution. CAR, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Malawi voted against; Botswana. Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana. Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius. Sierra Leone, Togo, Zaire and Zambia—abstained. Again, some countries’ votes were informed mostly by the confrontation over American ambassador’s comments on Idi Amin (the OAU Chairman at the time), others—to make sure that anti-apartheid resolutions would be backed by the Arabs. Sierra Leone and Zambia unsuccessfully asked for the vote to be postponed, backed by Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Swaziland, Togo, Upper Volta and Zaire, with Cameroon, Ghana and Lesotho abstaining. Liberia, Kenya and other states spoke against the haste and lack of an objective study to justify addition of Zionism; complained that there is no definition of Zionism in the resolution and that the text was detached from history. During the OAU summit earlier that year, Arab quest for a resolution calling for expulsion of Israel from the UN did not go through (to an extent, due to opposition of Egypt, already in negotiations), yet a call for suspension of Israel within the UN did. Still, Ghana and Zaire opposed this while Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone put forward reservations.58
Israeli cooperation with South Africa drew much contempt expressed at multilateral forums (OAU, UNGA). In 1983 and 1984. the OAU resolutions called members not to renew relations with Israel as a supporter of a racist regime of South Africa. To an extent, Israel was put to a higher standard due to its former commitment against apartheid.59
As regards Arab aid, according to Oded, during the OAU summit in Mogadishu in 1974,sub-Saharan states threatened that if they did not receive more aid from Arabs, they would re-establish relations with Israel. During preparations to the Afro-Arab 1977 summit in Cairo, they claimed that unless Arabs increase aid to USD 1 million (from 300,000), they would not participate in the conference. While Arab states refused to work on oil prices and aid, the economies of sub-Saharan states were collapsing. Disappointment was expressed even by countries which Islamised themselves on the “solidarity wave” and were among the few to receive aid, as Gabon. Notably, when Nigeria wanted to reduce oil prices, it met with OPEC opposition. Resentment grew since aid was going mainly to Muslim countries (Guinea, Mali, Somalia, Senegal, Sudan, and Uganda, which pretended to be Muslim under Idi Amin); because it supported Muslim minorities(Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Sierra Leone); as a result of unmet commitments; and since Arab development agencies lacked experience and devotion.60
Israel-Egyptian peace treaty contributed to worsening of the Afro-Arab relations as Arabs boycotted many institutions in which Egypt was present. Yet President Sadat was welcomed to the July 1979 OAU summit with a standing ovation (while some Arab representatives left the room). Most countries blocked the proposals to discuss expulsion of Egypt from the OAU and Non-Aligned Movement and refused drafts that condemned Egypt (Gabon. Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Zaire were particularly active here). SSA also mostly abstained or voted against a paragraph in a UNGA resolution stating that provisions of Camp David accords relating to the Palestinian issue are invalid. Benin. Burundi, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Mali and Senegal voted with radical Arab countries and for this paragraph, opposed by Egypt.61
Arab oil powers’ investments in Western assets, support for South Africa through oil sells, economic and military cooperation caused further resentment. Absence of officials at important pan-African events contributed to a growing feeling of being treated in a patronising and exploitative ways. The October 1988 article Let us recognize Israel by Balfour Ankomah in New African complained that Arab states sold Africans oil at the same prices as to its Western enemies, and after states’ coffers run empty due to these prices, all they offered were loans.62
Already in May 1979, Ivory Coast and Senegal tried to table an OAU resolution calling for renewals. In the early 1980s, some change in SSA voting patterns, positive for Israel, was observed in International Labour Organisation, Inter-parliamentary Union, the UN Decolonisation
Committee, OAU, UNESCO and UNSC (notably, Togo’s and Zaire’s 1982 abstention from a Soviet draft calling for military sanctions on Israel for its actions in Lebanon).63 In 1991, UNGA revoked resolution 3379 on Zionism as a form of racism. Among the move’s numerous sponsors, including both the US and the USSR, there were (only?) 10 sub-Saharan nations: Burundi, CAR, Gambia, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Swaziland. A total of 111 countries backed the resolution, among them, aside from sponsors,: Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Congo, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia, Nigeria, Togo, Zaire and Zambia. Among the 25 opposed were Mali and Mauretania, while Angola, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia. Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe abstained.
Contemporary behaviours in international organisations
In November 2012, the UNGA resolution 67/19 granting Palestine non-member observer state status passed with 138 for, 9 against and 41 abstentions. Kenya, considered one of the friendliest towards Israel, was among its sponsors, even though since the 1990s, it had tended to abstain or not be present during votes on Israeli-Palestinian issue; other SSA sponsors were Angola, Djibouti, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Mali, Mauretania, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Zimbabwe. All sub-Saharan countries voted in favour, except three which abstained: Cameroon, DR. Congo and Rwanda and three which were absent: Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, and Madagascar.64
The case of UNESCO resolutions oblivious to Jewish heritage of Jerusalem is another example. Sub-Saharan nations are a part of a trend of diminishing support for such resolutions. During the April 2016 vote, Chad, Guinea, Mauritius. Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo approved. Togo’s vote was received by Israel as surprising; Nigeria’s signalised a negative change of direction after the 2015 elections. Otherwise, abstentions of Cameroon, Ivory Coast. Kenya and Uganda were taken as a positive development, proving that investment in relations can bear fruit. Angola and Burkina Faso were seen as those that could be persuaded to not approve such resolutions in the future, as both had a history of abstentions effectively supporting Israel in diverse UN bodies. During October vote, among the ten countries which switched from approval to abstention, three were from SSA: Ghana, Guinea and Togo. This can be attributed to the diplomatic efforts, most notably Netanyahu’s visit, and restoration of relations with Guinea. Other “friendly abstentions” came as previously from Cameroon. Ivory Coast, Kenya and Uganda. Nigeria and Senegal again approved the resolution. In the World Heritage Committee. Angola voted for. Burkina Faso and Zimbabwe abstained, Tanzania voted against. In fact, Tanzania, along with Croatia, were behind the surprise change in the way the resolution was adopted—by vote, not by consensus, allowing for expression of dissent.65
Most significantly, Rwanda and Nigeria were key in preventing the passing of the 2014 draft UNSC resolution on unilateral creation of a Palestinian state in 2017. Togo abstained from the 2009 UNSC endorsement of the Goldstone report following the war with Hamas, from the 2011 UNESCO vote to admit Palestine as a state, from the 2012 UNGA debate on granting Palestine non-member observer status, and from the 2015 resolution allowing waving of a Palestinian flag at the UN. Thus, sub-Saharan countries do not support Israel openly; all Israel does count on at the moment are abstentions. It is believed that the bloc mentality dominates the reasoning, and countries find it difficult to stand out from what has solidified as a standard voting pattern. In more technical forums, situation is a bit better from the Israeli point of view. For example, in the September 2016 vote in the IAEA on international inspections of nuclear facilities, Burundi. Kenya. Rwanda and Togo voted in line with Israel and 15 other African countries abstained. In the IAEA vote in 2014, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger and Zimbabwe voted for the resolution (and against Israel); DR. Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Togo and Uganda voted against it (with Israel) and Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Tanzania all abstained (neutral to pro-Israel stance).66
As for the OAU, it never revoked the resolution calling on member states not to resume relations with Israel. Pro-Palestinian resolutions are adopted every year. In 2016, after Prime Minister’s trip, it was hoped that Israel would be invited to the AU summit in Kigali, as other non-African diplomatic corps accredited to the hosting country. The invitation did not come, despite the fact that the summit was organised by a very friendly country (Rwanda). According to Oded, behind-the-scenes Arab influences must have been the reason; possibly their threat of non-participation. However, Kenya and Ethiopia openly supported granting Israel AU observer seat. Such a call was also included in the final document of the 2016 summit between East African countries and Israel.67
Cooperation is easier on more pragmatic and development-oriented regional level. The works on the MoU with ECOWAS translated into an international conference on Enhancing Sustainable Agricultural Productivity in Arid and Semi-Arid Regions (December 2016, Jerusalem). In attendance were foreign ministers of Cape Verde, Gambia. Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo as well as senior officials from Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal. The conference included visiting agricultural research and training institutions. The guests spoke of agriculture as a vital field for cooperation, both with Israeli businesses and the government, with Israel having answers in terms of new agricultural technologies seen as key to diminish food imports and create jobs. Marcel Alain de Souza, President of ECOWAS, pointed to essential nature of getting training in agriculture and medicine, especially for oncologists, and that Israel’s cooperation in energy and drinking water was also sought after. Yet Prime Minister’s Netanyahu plan to attend ECOWAS summit in Nigeria in December 2016 was abolished due to the opposition by the host government. Nevertheless, he joined the ECOWAS summit in Liberia in June 2017. He was also invited to attend an Africa-Israel summit initiated by Togo, which would go beyond ECOWAS members and include all African (also Arab) countries wishing to participate. Reportedly Togo’s president addressed the possible negative reactions from Arab states by saying that risks are low as Togo does not receive much money from Arab powers and has only a small Muslim population. Development, security, business and the role of NGOs were the planned subjects of the summit, which eventually was postponed.68
An analysis of contemporary voting behaviours as an amalgam poses certain difficulties. The votes considered important are taken at various forums with a varied representation of SSA countries. They are also separated by a significant flow of time. An analyses of votes on a selection of ME-related UNGA votes from 2009 (beginning of Netanyahu’s premiership) to 2016 is presented next. Abstention or being absent was treated as a generally pro-Israeli behaviour as in practice it worked against adoption of anti-Israeli drafts; though since draft needs two-thirds of votes cast to pass, a more effective measure to block an adoption is to abstain. Resolutions on the most contentious aspects of the conflict were chosen: Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem (accepting detailed reports presented by the Special Committee on the matter); Situation in the Middle East—Jerusalem (condemning imposition of Israeli laws and administration in Jerusalem); and Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan (demanding cessation of all settlement activity, deploring it in the context of Geneva conventions and of viability of the future Palestinian state).
An analysis of votes shows that proportion of countries abstaining or not casting vote grows both on the level of all the states and in terms of SSA states. The growth among SSA is similar or a bit higher than among other states. The most visible growth in abstentions and non-votes on the part of SSA is in the case of a resolution on Jerusalem—from 17.7% in 2009 to 46.6%. Speculatively, it might reflect concern over Christian rights in the city, seen as better guarded by the Jewish administration than it could be under Muslim rule. Persecution of Christians and destruction of holy sites in the ME in the 2010s might have contributed. Except for Cameroon, which cast abstention vote, 21 states chose not to vote on this resolution at all in 2016. Thus, almost half of SSA states did not want to participate in a process which questions Jewish rights in the Old Town. This can be interpreted in two ways: as a choice of a more neutral behaviour that casting abstention or questioning legitimacy of the draft. The states which changed their voting behaviour on the resolution on Jerusalem from support to nonvote were Botswana, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Gambia, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Swaziland and Uganda. Cameroon abstained already in 2009, while Burkina Faso, CAR. Congo, DR. Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda and Sao Tome and Principe and Seychelles did not cast vote both in 2009 and 2016. The group contains both Christian-and Muslim-majority Burkina Faso, Gambia and Sierra Leone or mixed (Ivory Coast) states. Of note, SSA countries which delegated representatives to the May 2018 ceremony transferring the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem were Angola (though in breach of the country’s official position), Cameroon, Congo, DRC, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia.69
Regarding the resolution on settlements, share of abstentions and nonvotes grew from 24.4 to 33.3% and on Israeli practices—from 28.8 to 40%. The 2016 resolution on practices “enjoyed” the largest number of active SSA abstentions—7. The countries which abstained in 2016 on Israeli practices, aside from non-votes, were Cameroon, CAR, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi and Togo. Cameroon, CAR, Ivory Coast and Togo actively abstained also on settlements. More pro-Israeli stances were taken in 2016 than in 2009 on both practices and settlements by Benin, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi. Swaziland and Togo.
The results are slightly correlated with the volumes of Israeli aid. Of the above-mentioned. Cameroon. Ghana and Uganda were in the second half of the top 10 recipients in the period 2009-15, followed by Burkina Faso, South Sudan and Togo. Net amounts of aid in the last three cases were meagre, although aid might have been relatively visible due to these countries’ relatively small populations. This also might be the case of the “aid orphans”—Gambia, Malawi, Madagascar and Togo. Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Togo are the “special interest countries” for the MASHAV action (Ivory Coast used to receive more aid, but in the period considered, the volumes actually went down), while Ghana, Uganda and South Sudan are among the priorities. Most of these countries participate in MASHAV courses at high levels. This slight correlation does not mean causality, rather testifies to a general process of build-up of positive relations.
Interestingly, no country moved away from abstaining to supporting resolutions in question. Among the countries discussed (aside from Uganda, whose pro-Israeli move on votes is anyway meagre), there are no East African countries, concerned as Israel’s key geopolitical allies, developing security cooperation and also benefitting from numerous trainings. Kenya is the most striking example (maybe reserving abstentions for more crucial votes), followed by Ethiopia. Asked about the issue, representative of the Kenyan embassy in Israel declared that decisions on every vote are issue- and merits based. Abstentions come sometimes on the country-specific resolutions, which often have hidden agendas. There is no pressure from the Israeli side on the votes and the UN realities often turn friends to vote against each other. Multilateral and bilateral relations are in separate silos. According to the interviewee, Israeli diplomacy has only recently started to be active with regards to the voting patterns. The trigger was the Palestinian decision to quit the negotiations and follow a unilateral way to statehood through proclamations of international organisations. A wake-up call might have been the admission of Palestine to UNESCO (2011).70
Comparing these results with the 1993 UNGA session following the Oslo accords does not lead to clear conclusions. The resolutions were similar, yet different, with the one on practices split into four parts (the most radical one was chosen as a subject of an analysis) and the one on settlements concentrated on economy. Botswana, Burundi. Eritrea, Ghana. Kenya and Nigeria abstained or were not present, while in 2009 they voted for resolutions. The negative impact of the failure of the peace process can be assumed with some probability as a cause.
The official accounts of the 2016 UNGA discussions and deliberations of the committee on the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people show very limited participation of SSA. The one active actor was Senegal, member and president of the UNSC at the time and also the Chairman of the Committee, on which behalf he introduced some of the Palestine-related resolutions. His speeches can be assessed as balanced and devoid of harsh rhetoric used by speakers from radical countries, who dominated the debate. Same during the discussion over the resolution on Israeli practices; here, besides Senegal, also a representative of the AU spoke: condemnatory of Israel, undemanding towards the Palestinians.