Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) introduces members of his delegation to Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni after arriving to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Operation Entebbe at the Entebbe airport in Uganda, July 4, 2016. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
JERUSALEM, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu departed Monday for Africa on his first visit there as prime minister, a trip seen as part of a quest to find new trade partners and allies to counter the Palestinians' increasing influence at the United Nations.
The last Africa visit by an Isaeli prime minster was by the late Yitzhak Rabin, to Morocco, in 1999.
In a video statement at the airport before his departure, Netanyahu said the "historic visit" is "very important from diplomatic, economic and security perspectives."
"I am pleased that Israel is going back to Africa in a big way," he said. "We are opening Africa to Israel again."
During the four-day tour, Netanyahu will visit Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia.
The visit will begin with a meeting in Entebbe, Uganda, with leaders from seven African nations, including Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Zambia, and Tanzania.
The Prime Minister's Office said that some 80 businesspeople from over 50 companies are accompanying Netanyahu to "forge commercial ties with African companies and countries." They will participate in economic seminars in Kenya and Ethiopia with local counterparts.
The visit comes after strengthening ties with African countries over the past years, with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman touring the continent and meeting with African politicians and businessmen.
Dore Gold, a director-general at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, traveled to South Africa in March, in a bid to strengthen relations with the country, which is a staunch supporter of the Palestinians' struggle for statehood.
In turn, African leaders have visited Israel in recent years, including Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta and Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.