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Daily Israel Report

South Sudan Expresses Support for Israel as September Nears

South Sudanese officials tell visiting MK their country sees Israel as "an older brother."
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 8/30/2011, 11:36 AM

South Sudan "supports Israel and strengthens it as UN September declaration approaches," South Sudan's foreign minister, Deng Alor Koul, told visiting Israeli MK Danny Danon (Likud).

Danon asked Koul to vote against a UN General Assembly resolution that would recognize the Palestinian Authority as an independent state called Palestine.

"Palestine" is the English version of the name the Romans gave the province previously known as Judea after they succeeded in quashing Jewish independence there nearly 2,000 years ago.

The PA "stops short at nothing in its efforts to damage Israel and make sure that the conflict in the Middle East goes on forever," MK Danon told his hosts.

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir told Danon that Hamas chiefs Khalid Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh had approached him and requested that he refrain from diplomatic ties with Israel. They said, among other things, that Arab countries have no ties with Israel.

Kiir said that he told them that he "sees Israeli embassies in Jordan and Egypt and that in any case, South Sudan is not an Arab country."

He told Danon that his country would establish its embassy in the city of Jerusalem, rather than in Tel Aviv, like most countries. He also promised to visit Israel soon, in response to Danon's invitation.

The South Sudanese Parliament's Deputy Speaker Daniel Awet Akot told Danon that when his country celebrated its first independence day, two months earlier, Israeli flags were hoisted alongside South Sudanese ones, as a token of appreciation and a will to emulate the Jewish state. "Israel is like Southern Sudan's older brother," he said.

Generally speaking, Jews are held in high regard in eastern Africa, which has a grassroots brand of Christianity that is without a history of anti-Semitism, and where Israelis are known for their agricultural and military prowess and willingness to provide knowledge and aid. Potential for friendly relations with Israel is even greater in Southern Sudan, which was born out of a history of persecution by Muslims and thus has a common enemy with Israel.