The Israel–Uganda diplomatic relations which were damaged in the 1970s during the Idi Amin regime seem to be healed and restored.
The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has hailed the renewed relations at dinner help last Sunday to celebrate Israel’s 66th independence anniversary, and 20 years of good Israel Uganda relations. The speaker was of the opinion that this good relationship between the two countries should extend to tourism as well. She encouraged Ugandans to visit Israel and Israelites to visit Uganda, in an exchange of religious tourism
According to the Israeli ambassador to Uganda, Gil Haskel, the Uganda-Israel bilateral relationship is still a work in progress. He said that the relations were still strained but that didn’t stop him from re-establishing diplomatic relations by signing an agreement to that effect. He went ahead to say that Uganda –Israel relations date back to a time before Uganda even attained independence. Israel helped Uganda in its first steps towards becoming an independent state.
Kadaga earnestly thanked Israel for getting past the issues that soured the relationship between the two countries in the 1970s. The relationship between the two countries were restored on 26th July 1994 a with a signed agreement and has since been getting stronger, although still a little bit strained as Ambassador Gil Haskel observed. Israel has since supported Uganda in various development activities by sharing and equipping Ugandans with various skills. Israel has shared knowledge in various fields such as Education, IT, health and agricultures and hopes to share to share much more with Uganda.
The dinner took place at Serena Hotel and was attended by members of the Jewish community in Uganda and some Ugandan guests.
Bishop Josiah Lwere who was also present at the dinner brought the Christian and Jewish relationship into the picture saying that Ugandan Christians communed with the Israelites because they believed in the existence of Israel and it people. Which is what prompted speaker Kadaga to refer to religious tourism as another way in which Uganda in Israel could boost their bilateral ties. Seeing as both countries have religious historical sites that are major tourist attractions. Israel has many of those while Uganda has the Uganda martyrs shrine.
Hopefully Israel will take the idea seriously and the religious tourism could extend to general tourism and include visits to various tourist sites like the source of the River Nile, National Parks like Bwindi Impenetrable forest for gorilla trekking.