An Israeli television named Channel 12 news reported that Muse Bihi Abdi, President of Somaliland, recently told US officials he was making overtures to Israel, but without any response, the Times of Israel wrote on Saturday.
Reports by Channel 12 news could not be immediately verified, the paper added.
In May, Israel’s embassy in France organized a conference, inviting French and African journalists, diplomats, entrepreneurs, and artists to examine the future of Israeli cooperation with African countries and businesses.
Somaliland was represented at the conference by its defense minister.
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.
These agreements marked the first time Arab nations formally recognized the Jewish state. While the UAE is the first Gulf state and third Arab nation to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel after Egypt and Jordan.
According to Seth J Frantzman Ph.D., a Jerusalem-based commentator on Middle East politics and lecturer in American studies at Al-Quds University, the Covid-19 crisis and recent normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE present an opportunity to look at Somaliland and its region as a place that Jerusalem and the Middle East should pay more interest in.
The UAE is already Somaliland’s biggest development partner playing a massive role in the expansion of the Port of Berbera which is strategic for its maritime and military interests.
On the other hand, after the Abraham Accords were signed in Washington on September 2020, Israeli officials hinted at the possibility of Somaliland being one of the next countries to ink deals with Israel.
Somaliland and Israel have so much in common having both been politically isolated. While Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, Somaliland is the only Muslim democracy in the region.
In 2010, Yigal Palmor, the serving as Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz Daily saying his government was ready to recognize Somaliland. He cited Israel was the first state to recognize Somaliland in 1960 when it received its independence from Great Britain.
“Israel was the first nation to recognize Somaliland and indeed was the first country the State of Israel has recognized after it received its Independence from Great Britain. When it unified with Southern Somalia, again we were the first to recognize it. We always wanted a relationship with a Muslim country in East Africa and which we can share the Red sea with.”
Palmor said his country was ready to restore Somaliland’s old status, however, currently, the two states have no bilateral ties.
Israel has over the years had a growing national interest in the Red Sea region, a key shipping route. Israel has maintained the region is a key route for illegal arms.
The strategic importance of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden has been acknowledged by both regional powers and global superpowers. The Red Sea is of importance to Israel as it gives its ships access to the Arabian Sea.
The Red Sea has long represented a critical link in a network of global waterways stretching from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean to the Pacific—a strategic and economic thoroughfare one US defense official dubbed the “Interstate-95 of the planet.”
With its 460-mile Gulf of Aden coastline, Somaliland is an important asset to any defense of the Bab el-Mandab and the Red Sea, as well as counterpiracy and counterterrorism operations interdiction of weapons smuggling. Berbera, its main port city, is not only a modern and deepwater facility but is also just a short drive from an airport used during the Cold War as US logistical hub and base for the Rapid Deployment Force.
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