The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has said that the raid on Entebbe Airport in 1976 by Israel to rescue their hijacked people should be a vehicle for unity between Uganda, Israel and Africa.
Kadaga made the remarks while speaking at a seminar for Heads of African Parliaments that is taking place at the Knesset (Israel Parliament) in Jerusalem.
Highlighting the hijacking of the plane and the subsequent rescue of the passengers by the Israeli Defence Forces, Kadaga said that the terrorist attack binds the two countries and that cooperation should grow.
“One of the things we share are attacks by terrorists. The subsequent rescue of the passengers, which resulted into the death of the brother of the current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should bind us together as one people,” she said.
Terrorists under the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacked the plane carrying 248 passengers, which had set off from Israel for Paris. The hijackers diverted the plane to Entebbe Airport, where they held Israeli passengers hostage, prompting the attack that was led by Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan (Yoni) Netanyahu (RIP), a brother of current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu.
The Speaker said that prior to the terrorist incident, Israel was supporting Uganda in all forms of development. She was therefore optimistic that relations can be enhanced for the benefit of both Uganda and Israel.
” A lot of collaboration had taken place in capacity building, you had provided scholarships to the people of Uganda; many of the roads in Uganda were built by Israeli companies and you had established a citrus scheme in my constituency. I am glad that after several years, our relations have been re-established and we are benefitting from much cooperation,” she added.
Kadaga, who is accompanied by the Finance State Minister David Bahati and MP Lucy Akello, called for Israeli investment in agriculture, manufacturing and the mining sector which she said is still underexploited.
” Uganda has over 60% arable land and we are not using it well; I want to invite your support to improve agriculture in our country. There is also need to create investments so that we generate employment by establishing more industries and infrastructure,” she said.
Kadaga also welcomed Israelis to visit Uganda for general and religious tourism highlighting the Uganda Martyrs in reciprocation of the visits by Ugandans to the Holy Sites in Israel.
The Speaker of the Israel Parliament, Hon. Yuli Yoel Edelstein, said given the history between the two countries, there is need for more cooperation.
Edelstein revealed that they have launched a special caucus for relations with African Parliaments and that they have signed cooperation agreements with Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
“We believe that we can help forge warmer ties through mutually beneficial partnerships between our parliaments and peoples in various areas for shared interest,” Edelstein said.
The Seminar brought together Speakers from South Sudan, Tanzania, Ghana and Rwanda.