by Ilan Evyatar/TPS
Cape Verde has distanced itself from a statement by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last week that the African island nation would no longer vote against Israel at the United Nations.
According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, after meeting with Netanyahu on the sidelines of the summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the Liberian capital Monrovia earlier this year, Cape Verde’s President Jorge Carlos Fonseca had instructed his UN delegation to stop voting against Israel.
On Tuesday, however, in a post on the official Cape Verde presidential Facebook page, Fonseca clarified that responsibility for implementing the country’s foreign policy lies with the government.
According to the Cape Verde constitution, government is the “organ that defines, leads, and executes the general internal and external policy of the country” and is responsible to the National Assembly, while the president’s role is “head of state.”
Fonseca said that he supports the foreign policy guidelines defined by the government that favor relations with Israel and it was in that context that he met with Netanyahu for a working meeting on the sidelines of the ECOWAS summit in Monrovia.
Fonseca added that their meeting had addressed a number of issues relating to cooperation between the two countries, such as agriculture, renewable energy, tourism and security, however “specific aspects of the action of Cape Verdean diplomacy, such as voting procedures in the various international fora, as well as the mechanisms for their implementation, through the representatives of Cape Verde, were not been addressed, much less discussed.”
The president continued that he would work with the government to achieve a foreign policy “based on the values of democracy, freedom, human rights and always guided by the uncompromising defence of the interests of Cape Verde.”
While the Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment, diplomatic sources said that Israel had received messages from Cape Verde that it would cease to vote against Israel and that these messages had been confirmed by reports in local media. The source added that there was significant Arab pressure on African states not to strengthen ties with Israel and that the president’s statement “was most likely the result of that pressure.”
Earlier this week, Netanyahu claimed that visiting Togolese president Faure Gnassingbé has come under pressure to cancel an Africa-Israel summit that the West African nation is due to host in October.