Israel refuses to apologize to Tanzania after it protests being called "irrelevant."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has declined to apologize to Tanzania, despite a letter from the African country protesting a Barak statement that its representatives in Israel found offensive, a Barak associate said Tuesday.
In an interview with Israel Radio's Ayala Hasson last Thursday, Barak criticized the Foreign Ministry for warning that adopting the Palestinian position on how to advance diplomatic talks would make England, France, and Germany irrelevant.
"Germany, France and England are not Tanzania, Mauritania or Tripolitania [a region in Libya]," said Barak, noting places whose names rhyme with England in Hebrew. "These are very important, very relevant countries and we don't have an interest in increasing tensions with them or making them bitter enemies."
Tanzania's honorary consul in Israel, Kasbian Nuriel Chirich, wrote a letter to ForeignMinister Avigdor Lieberman condemning Barak's remarks and inviting a representative of Israel to visit his country.
In this effort to praise theimportance of key countries in Europe, he chose to put down Tanzania and compare it to a country that doesn't even exist," Chirich wrote. "Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa, rich in natural resources, with a population of some 46 million peace seeking people and a gross domestic product of more than 58 billion dollars.
Chirich noted that Israel andTanzania have had diplomatic, security, and economic relations since Tanzania's independence and that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has recently met African leaders in an effort to deepen ties with the continent amid the strengthening of Islamic extremism there.
"Tanzania is an important country that Israel should not ignore," Chirich wrote.
Barak's associates said he did not intend to express regret for his statements aboutTanzania, which they said Barak had made on multiple occasions.
"Maintaining relations with England, Germany, and France is indeed more urgent for Israel than with Tanzania, which has less influence from Israel's standpoint," a source close to Barak said.
Source: Jerusalem Post