Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed kicked off a two-day visit to Israel on Sunday by talking briefly with the mother of Avera Mengistu, who is being held in Gaza, and sending words of comfort to the family of Solomon Tekah, the 19-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli teenager killed in June by an off-duty police officer in an incident that sparked massive demonstrations.
Abiy, who is visiting Israel for the first time since being elected in April 2018, went directly to Yad Vashem after arriving on Sunday morning, followed by a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office with Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu invited Agamesh Mengistu, the mother of Avera Mengistu, to be among those in the receiving line when Abiy arrived, and the two spoke briefly.
Abiy, during his opening comments, sent condolences to the families of three Israelis who lost their lives in Ethiopia this year: Shimon Re’em and Avraham Matzliah, who were killed in the crash of an Ethiopian airliner in March, and Aya Na’aman, who died during a trek in the Danakil Desert in August.
Abiy then said that he would also like to “take this opportunity to pay respects to the family of Solomon Tekah, an Ethiopian-Israeli who lost his life in a tragic event here in Israel.”
In times of tragedy, he said, the two countries “mourn together as two families.”
Speaking two words of Hebrew, he said, “We are brothers.”
Netanyahu welcomed Abiy by praising the economic reforms that he has instituted in Ethiopia, saying that the 150,000 Jews of Ethiopian descent in Israel are a “living bridge” between the two countries and pledging to do what he can to encourage Israeli investment in Ethiopia.
“Our trade is small, only $300 million, and can grow 10 times,” Netanyahu said, adding that trade and investments, as well as cooperation in security, agriculture, water management and technology, were to be the focus of their talks.
Netanyahu said that both Israel and Ethiopia are being “challenged by radical Islamic terrorists, and we believe we can offer some shared experience that we have garnered.”
Abiy’s visit to Israel follows trips he made last week to South Korea and Japan. Netanyahu visited Ethiopia in 2016.