Sunday, May 22, 2022

Botswana cuts military diplomacy with Israel

Botswana has not procured any military equipment from Israel since 2018 suggesting that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has severed the country’s longstanding military diplomacy with Jerusalem.

According to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade, Botswana’s last import from Israel of Arms and ammunition, parts and accessories was US$959.82 Thousand (about P10 million) during 2018. Since then, which was the year President Masisi took over from his predecessor, Lt Gen Ian Khama, Botswana has not procured any military equipment from Israel.

The data from COMTRADE further reveals that since 2012, four years after Khama took over from the former President Festus Mogae, to 2018 when Khama stepped down as President Botswana had been importing Arms and ammunition, parts and accessories from Israel every year.

It has further emerged that since Masisi ascended to the presidency, the total value of Botswana’s imports from Israel has been declining steadily. According to STATISTA, “In 2021, the value of imports from Botswana to Israel fell to 59.9 million U.S. dollars. This was a decline compared to the previous year. From 2019 onwards, the value of imports from this African country has decreased annually.”

The steady decline in Botswana’s imports from Israel since 2018 tallies with President Masisi’s disposition towards Jerusalem.

Botswana was year a rare African voice of criticism against Israel, suggesting that the Masisi administration has abandoned Botswana’s traditional position as a lynchpin of the Zionist plan to stem the tide of Israel’s growing international isolation over its violation of human rights.

A brief by the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution reported that Botswana was one of the African nations which were vocal in supporting an international investigation into alleged crimes and human rights violations committed by Israel against Palestinian groups in Gaza and into “systematic” abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories and inside Israel. 

While Botswana has in the past voted alongside other pro Zionist countries, in favour of a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, for the first time, the UN resolution last week mentioned Botswana as one of the nations that were vocal in denouncing the recent violent attacks against Palestinians.

The report states that Botswana representatives were among those intervening during the discussion and condemned the recent attacks against Palestinians in the strongest terms. 

Prior to the adoption of the resolution by the UN human rights body, Botswana signalled its intensions to break with its tradition of adopting a soft diplomatic stance when dealing with Israel when, in press statement, “noted with concern the ongoing fighting between the Israeli military forces and the Palestinian militants (Hamas) in the Gaza strip of Jerusalem.”

In addition, for the first time, the “Government of Botswana strongly condemned the escalation of the attacks and called for a ceasefire.” Botswana added that this was necessary to avoid any further causalities in the conflict which risks developing into a fully-fledged war.

The report suggests that diplomatic representatives from Botswana were among those that denounced the “unjustified escalation of violence against Palestinians.”  

Opening the session, UN’s human rights boss Michelle Bachelet condemned Israel’s recent attacks warning that the attacks which reportedly killed more than 200 Palestinians are likely to constitute war crimes. 

The tradition had been that Botswana bucked the growing international trend to boycott Israel.

During former President Ian Khama’s administration, while the international community seemed to be moving away from Israel, Botswana on the other hand strengthened its relationship with the Benjamin Netanyahu led government.

The military diplomacy between Botswana Israel proceeded with the same mantras as in the sixties and seventies: military support, intelligence logistics and agricultural technology as a bonus. 

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