Ethiopia is assuming greater importance than ever before for Israel. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked visited there this week within the context of a tour of African states and President Reuven Rivlin is due to visit next week.
It will be the first state visit by a president of Israel to Ethiopia.
Rivlin’s entourage will include a business delegation headed by Shraga Brosh, the president of the Israel Manufacturers Association, as well as representatives of academia and organizations for the development of international relations.
Also traveling with Rivlin will be Israeli-born singer and actress Esther Rada whose parents migrated from Ethiopia well over three decades ago. Rada has never been to Ethiopia.
While in Ethiopia she will perform at an economic conference, and will accompany Rivlin to several official events. She will also take the opportunity, if time permits, to explore her roots.
Like Shaked, Rivlin, in addition to meeting with senior Ethiopian officials, will meet with leaders of the Jewish community.
Some of Ethiopia’s Jews have been waiting for upward of 10 years to be reunited with relatives in Israel with whom they communicate regularly via Skype.
Shaked in an interview on Reshet Bet radio said that she would raise the matter of the immigration of the remaining Ethiopian Jews with the relevant authorities. The problem lies not with Ethiopia but with Israel, she acknowledged.
During his state visit on May 1-3, Rivlin will be the guest of President Mulatu Teshome, and inter alia will meet with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and with Abune Mathias, the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Rivlin will also learn about the enhanced agricultural development in Ethiopia achieved through cooperation with MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development, which is a branch of the Foreign Ministry. Israel has put much of its advanced agricultural technology at Ethiopia’s disposal.