Is­rael-Togo meet­ing de­layed after body­guards fight

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

A PHYS­I­CAL al­ter­ca­tion be­tween Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu’s body­guards, and those of To­golese Pres­i­dent Faure Gnass­ingbe, de­layed a meet­ing be­tween the two lead­ers at the Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity of West African (Ecowas) Sum­mit in Mon­rovia, Liberia, on Sun­day.

The punch-up and shov­ing match started after Ne­tanyahu’s se­cu­rity per­son­nel re­fused to al­low the To­golese se­cu­rity de­tail to en­ter where the two men were meet­ing, ac­cord­ing to Is­raeli diplo­matic re­porters.

Is­rael’s Chan­nel 10 re­porter Moav Vardi said Gnass­ingbe ar­rived at the meet­ing with his body­guards, but they were stopped at the door to the meet­ing room by Ne­tanyahu’s se­cu­rity de­tail as the Is­raelis re­port­edly de­manded that the Togo se­cu­rity per­son­nel pro­vide iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

See­ing his body­guards pre­vented from en­ter­ing, Gnass­ingbe re­port­edly turned around and walked straight out again, ef­fec­tively can­celling the meet­ing.

In ad­di­tion to the pro­posed meet­ing with Gnass­ingbe, Ne­tanyahu also met sev­eral other west African lead­ers on Sun­day.

Prior to leav­ing for Liberia, Ne­tanyahu had said he would use his trip to the Ecowas sum­mit to garner sup­port for Is­rael at the UN and other in­ter­na­tional fo­rums.

“The pur­pose of this trip is to dis­solve this ma­jor­ity, this gi­ant bloc of 54 African coun­tries that is the ba­sis of the au­to­matic ma­jor­ity against Is­rael in the UN and in­ter­na­tional bod­ies,” he said on Satur­day evening ahead of the flight.

Ne­tanyahu said he hoped to use his at­ten­dance at Ecowas’s an­nual con­fer­ence to build on his visit last July to the east African na­tions of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia, which marked the first time in decades an Is­raeli pre­mier had trav­elled to Africa.

“Is­rael is re­turn­ing to Africa in a big way,” the prime min­is­ter said on Satur­day, re­it­er­at­ing a mes­sage he re­peated through­out his pre­vi­ous trip to the con­ti­nent.

Ne­tanyahu said that the trip marked the first time a non-African leader would speak at Ecowas – an or­gan­i­sa­tion that in­cludes 15 na­tions with a com­bined pop­u­la­tion of some 320 mil­lion – which he called a “badge of hon­our for the state of Is­rael”.

A meet­ing be­tween the Is­raeli pre­mier and Sene­galese Pres­i­dent Macky Sall on the mar­gins of the Ecowas sum­mit on Sun­day led to the restora­tion of diplo­matic ties be­tween the two coun­tries after they were sus­pended fol­low­ing Sene­gal spon­sor­ing a UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion last De­cem­ber con­demn­ing Is­raeli set­tle­ments in the oc­cu­pied West Bank. ANA

PIC­TURE: EPA

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, cen­tre, at­tends a re­gional Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity of West African States (Ecowas) sum­mit at the Roberts In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Liberia on Sun­day.

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