Nigeria May Block Israel From Attending West African Summit by the Forward

Nigeria May Block Israel From Attending West African Summit

Image by Getty

Israel had made plans to sit down at an historic meeting with 15 West African countries this year — but the Nigerian president is not signing off on the deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamim Netanyahu had previously made plans to attend a summit with the Economic Communtiy of West African States, or ECOWAS, this year. Macel Alain de Souza, ECOWAS commissioner, invited Netanyahu last month during a visit to Israel.

The two men signed a declaration of intent stating that they both “positively view the participation of the prime minister of the State of Israel in the ECOWAS summit in the near future.”

But the president of Nigeria, a powerful ECOWAS member, is objecting to the move, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Nigeria hosts ECOWAS in its capital of Abuja. While Israel’s diplomatic ties with Nigeria strengthened during the tenure of president Goodluck Jonathan, relations have soured somewhat under the new president Muhammadu Buhari, elected in 2015.

The flap comes as Netanyahu seeks to bolster Israel’s diplomatic ties accross the continent. Earlier this summer, the prime minister toured East Africa.

Despite the dispute, Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbé said he was planning to hold an Israeli-African summit on “security and development,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Togo’s Foreign Minister Robert Dussey said in an interview that this planned alternate summit “aims to foster an invaluable platform for trade and business between our continent and the State of Israel.”

Email Sam Kestenbaum at and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum

Nigeria May Block Israel From Attending West African Summit


Sam Kestenbaum

Sam Kestenbaum

Sam Kestenbaum is a contributing editor and former staff writer for the Forward. Before this, he worked for The New York Times and newsrooms in Sana, Ramallah and Beijing. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum and on Instagram at @skestenbaum.

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Nigeria May Block Israel From Attending West African Summit

Thank you!

This article has been sent!