March 29, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel and Nigeria Will Begin Direct Flights

March 29, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel and Nigeria Will Begin Direct Flights

Latest Developments

Israeli Transport Minister Miri Regev approved a deal on Sunday to allow non-stop flights between Nigeria and Israel. Pending final approval by Israel’s cabinet, the agreement allows direct flights between Tel Aviv in Israel and Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria to begin next month. Nigerian airline Air Peace will operate twice weekly flights to Israel, making it easier for Nigerian pilgrims to visit holy sites in the country. Currently, Nigerian visitors to Israel must make a stop in Turkey or Ethiopia before they can reach their destination.

Expert Analysis

“Direct flights between Israel and Nigeria are just the latest sign of Israel’s increasing international integration. However, Israel’s unceremonious ejection from the African Union summit in February is a reminder that there is much work to be done. The Israel-Nigeria cooperation model will benefit citizens of both countries, in stark contrast to the African Union’s self-defeating, discriminatory model, which builds walls instead of bridges.” David May, FDD Research Manager and Senior Research Analyst

Israel Helped Nigeria’s Development

Israel and Nigeria first established ties when Nigeria gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1960. Israel sent experts and volunteers to Nigeria and other sub-Saharan states to help modernize agriculture, education, medicine, and technology training. Hundreds of Nigerian farmers, experts, educators, academics, students, doctors, community workers, and engineers received training in Israel.

Nigeria and many other sub-Saharan African nations cut ties with Israel following the Yom Kippur War in 1973 due to stress from the global oil crisis, promises of cheaper oil from Arab states, and political pressure stemming from a resolution passed by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) — the precursor to the Africa Union — that called for severing ties with Israel.

Restoring Relations

The two countries restored formal relations in 1992, with Nigeria opening an embassy in Tel Aviv and Israel opening an embassy in Abuja. The relationship has led to more than 50 Israeli companies operating in Nigeria’s construction, infrastructure, technology, communications and information technology, agriculture, and water management industries. Thousands of Nigerian businesses operate in Israel. Israel also assisted Nigeria in its fight against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State-affiliated terrorist organization Boko Haram.

Tensions in the African Union

In February, security guards kicked out an Israeli observer delegation from an opening session of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, even though Israel had received observer status to the organization in 2021. The same African Union Commission chief that granted Israel’s observer status claimed after the ejection that the Jewish state was suspended until further notice and that the Israeli delegation had not been invited to the summit. A spokesperson for Israel’s Foreign Ministry responded that the Union “has been taken hostage by a small number of extremist countries such as Algeria and South Africa, driven by hatred and controlled by Iran.”

Related Analysis

Don’t Let Palestinian Recalcitrance Hold Israeli-African Relations Hostage,” by David May

Al Qaeda’s Nigeria Franchise,” by Thomas Joselyn

Iran-backed terror cell exposed in Nigeria,” by David Barnett


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Israel