The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has pushed for further cooperation between Uganda and Israel, basing on the strong relationship that the two countrys enjoy historically.
She noted that the state of Israel has over the years supported Uganda in the areas of road infrastructure, education and agriculture, but added that these bilateral ties could be further strengthened.
Kadaga who is currently in Israel made the remarks during a seminar for Heads of African Parliaments held at the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament in Jaerusalem on Tuesday.
She especially alluded to the historical ‘Raid on Entebbe Airport’ in 1976 by Israeli armed forces to rescue their nationals who had been taken hostage by terrorists.
The terrorists under the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacked a plane carrying 248 passengers, which had set off from Tel Aviv in Israel for Paris. The plane was then diverted to Entebbe airport, where the hijackers held Israeli passengers hostage.
Kadaga said the 1976 operation bound Uganda and Israel together and that this should be used as a vehicle to further the bilateral cooperation.
“One of the things we share are attacks by terrorists. The subsequent rescue of the Israeli passengers in 1967, which resulted into the death of the brother of the current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should bind us together as one people,” she said.
But prior to the incident, said the Speaker, Israel had already been supporting Uganda in all forms of development.
“A lot of collaboration had taken place in capacity building, you had provided scholarships to the people of Uganda; many of the roads in Uganda were built by Israeli companies and you had established a citrus scheme in my constituency. I am glad that after several years, our relations have been re-established and we are benefitting from much cooperation,” she added.
Kadaga urged for Israeli investments in Uganda, particularly in the sectors of agriculture, manufacturing and mining which she said are still underexploited.
“Uganda has over 60% arable land and we are not using it well. I want to invite your support to improve agriculture in our country. There is also need to create investments so that we generate employment by establishing more industries and infrastructure,” she said.
Kadaga also promoted Uganda’s tourist attractions including faith based events such as the Uganda Martyrs Shrine which she encouraged Israelis to in reciprocity given that many Ugandans make annual pilgrimages to holy sites in Israel.
The Speaker was accompanied by the State Minister for Finance in charge of Planning, David Bahati and Amuru Woman MP, Lucy Akello.
The Speaker of the Israeli Parliament, Yuli Yoel Edelstein welcomed the proposal by Speaker Kadaga, reaffirming the need for more cooperation.
Edelstein revealed that they have launched a special caucus for relations with African Parliaments and that they have signed cooperation agreements with Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
“We believe that we can help forge warmer ties through mutually beneficial partnerships between our parliaments and peoples in various areas for shared interest,” Edelstein said.
The Seminar which closed on December 7 has also brought together Speakers from South Sudan, Tanzania, Ghana and Rwanda.