Jerusalem, Oct. 2 - Nigeria, currently a member of the United Nations Security Council, is one of the 15 countries that will decide the fate of the Palestinian bid for permanent status at the U.N. in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Israel today accepted the peace initiative put forward by the the Quartet on the Middle East, comprised of Russia, the U.N., the United States and the European Union.
"Israel welcomes the Quartet's call for direct negotiations between the parties without preconditions, as called for by both President [Barack] Obama and Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu," read a statement from Netanyahu's office.
While the Palestinians make their diplomatic bid, a key element to bear in mind is the close relationship between Israel and Nigeria.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and the world’s seventh most populous country, is home to approximately 150 million residents, roughly split between Muslim and Christian populations. Many Nigerian tourists, particularly Christian pilgrims, visit Israel each year. Like Israel, Nigeria strives to thwart religion-based terrorism.
The two countries share close economic and commercial ties. Nigeria is Israel’s second-largest export market in Africa, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. Nigeria and Israel signed a pact to boost trade and bilateral ties in 2009. The trade agreement focused on agriculture, tourism, IT and investment. It was the first of its kind.
The dynamic economic relations include bilateral consultations and discussions between the two governments, mutual visits of business delegations, participation in international exhibitions and other commercial events in both countries and various activities to promote trade and commerce carried out by the Israeli Export and International Cooperation Institute, the Nigerian-Israeli Chamber of Commerce (NICC), the Israel-Africa Chamber of Commerce and other institutions.
Many Israeli companies - specializing in water management, agriculture, communications, IT and hi-tech - employ hundreds of Nigerian workers in projects that are expanding Nigeria’s economy. The International Monetary Fund projected that Nigeria’s economic growth in 2011 would be eight percent.
Nigeria also participates in training courses run by MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, which works around the world helping developing countries improve their technological know-how in the life sciences.
Hundreds of Nigerian farmers, experts, educators, academics, students, doctors, community workers and engineers were trained in Israel. In September 2011, Nigeria participated in MASHAV workshops that aimed to get people ‘out of the slums’ by focusing on techniques that can upgrade poor urban areas using local know-how. Israel has become a world leader in development techniques that focus on community empowerment and private-public partnerships in poor, urban areas.
During the 1960s Israeli development experts with specializations in water management and agriculture helped Nigeria and other newly independent African states with agricultural and quality of life efforts. It sent hundreds of experts to the area to promote the modernization of agriculture, education, medical institutions and technological training programs.
Nigeria established relations with Israel quickly after Israel gained independence. After the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Nigeria, like many African countries, severed ties with Israel. In 1993, however, diplomatic relations were restored and have been on the rise since.