Israel’s PM Netanyahu to visit Uganda

President Museveni (wearing hat) receives Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Museveni's immediate right) at Entebbe International Airport in July 2016. File photo

By Homeland News Corps

Israel Prime minister Netanyahu is scheduled to arrive in Uganda Monday for a one day official bilateral visit as country plans to move embassy to Jerusalem.

Primier Minister Netanyahu, according to the a Saturday tweet by Ofwono Opondo, the executive director of the Uganda Media Centre, a government body that disseminates state information,  will hold a meeting with  President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

Opondo said that Netanyahu will travel with a delegation of about 45 people.

In July 2016, Netanyahu landed at Entebbe Airport for a half day visit to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his government’s raid on the same airport in 1976.

The Times of Israel news website reported that the trip to Uganda would come weeks before the March 2 elections in Israel and on the heels of high-profile visits to the United States and Russia.

In 2018, Israel sought a deal to send African migrants in Israel to Uganda, but the efforts broke down without an agreement. At a campaign event earlier this month, Netanyahu vowed to deport the “infiltrators” still in Israel.

The expected Primier Minister’s visit comes hot on the heels of Uganda’s plan to move its embassy to Jerusalem city from Tel Aviv in Israel.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry could not confirm the report.

Pastor Drake Kanaabo, who ministers at the Redeemed of the Lord Evangelistic Church Makerere in Kampala, Uganda, told the Jerusalem Post that he had been hearing rumors about the move.

“I got a note from sources that Uganda is moving the embassy,” he said, though he noted that he was unable to confirm the rumors with senior leaders by press time.

He said it is important that Uganda move the embassy to the holy city “because of our past good relationship with the State of Israel.

If Uganda moves it embassy, it will be the third embassy to designate Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, following American, Guatemala and Paraguay, the latter which has since withdrawn the decision.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu was formally charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, the justice ministry said, shortly after the embattled politician dropped his request for parliamentary immunity.

The indictment came as Netanyahu was in Washington for a meeting with President Donald Trump for the unveiling of a long-awaited US peace plan.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit presented the charge sheet to the Jerusalem district court, where Netanyahu will face trial for corruption over gifts and favourable media coverage received in return for regulatory and financial benefits.

Mandelblit had announced his decision to charge Netanyahu in November and presented the charge sheet publicly, but had refrained from the formal move in court “to enable a debate on the prime minister’s request for immunity from parliament”, his office said.

Hours earlier, Netanyahu issued a statement from Washington announcing he would not seek parliamentary immunity.

“A few minutes ago I informed the Knesset speaker that I’m withdrawing the immunity request,” Netanyahu said on Facebook. “I won’t let my political opponents use this issue to disturb the historic move I’m leading.”

Israel’s parliament had been scheduled to vote on Tuesday to convene a committee to rule on the request.

“In this fateful moment for the people of Israel, while I’m in the US on a historic mission to form Israel’s final borders and ensure our security for future generations, another immunity circus show is due to open at the Knesset,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu denies the charges against him and says he is the victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt.

The court will now set a date for the beginning of the trial.

His opponents had already mustered a majority in the legislature to deny him immunity.

Labour Party leader Amir Peretz welcomed Netanyahu’s announcement.

“It’s good the prime minister did what should have been done and gave up on his request for immunity,” he told AFP.

“I therefore hope that the prime minister will take the next step and decide to completely resign, go to court as a regular citizen and try to prove his innocence,” he said.

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