Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu , spearheading an intense Israeli diplomatic initiative in Africa , is expected to travel to West Africa by the end of the year to take part in a summit of the 15 -member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS ) to be held in Abuja , Nigeria.Netanyahu returned from a four -day , four -country visit to east Africa earlier this month ,where he met at a summit in Uganda with leaders from seven East African countries .On Thursday he met in his office with Marcel Alain de Souza , the president of ECOWAS . The two men signed a joint declaration of intent for greater cooperation between Israel and the organization , which represents countries that have a combined population of some 320 million people.The declaration states that both parties “ positively view the participation of the prime minister of the State of Israel in the ECOWAS summit in the near future . ”Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently addressed the African Union summit in Rwanda, a privilege not given Netanyahu because, unlike the PA , Israel does not have observer status in that organization . During Netanyahu’ s recent trip to Africa , the leaders of Kenya and Ethiopia publicly pledged to rectify that situation .Among the 15 countries in ECOWAS are two with whom Israel does not have diplomatic relations: Niger and Mali . Earlier this month Israel re – established diplomatic ties with Guinea , which is another ECOWAS state.Foreign Ministry director – general Dore Gold said that this group “ is one of the most important sub – regional organizations in Africa , and it brings the Prime Minister ’s [ Africa ] initiative , that started with east African countries like Kenya and Ethiopia , to the western part of the continent .”Gold said that while de Soussa , from Benin , does not take action without consulting the other states , he does not know whether he specifically called the leaders of Niger and Mali before embarking on his visit to Israel and signing the letter of intent for increased cooperation . The two men discussed deepening their cooperation particularly in the field of agriculture , desertification, water , education and health . Security issues were also raised , and in the declaration of intent Israel stated that “ it stands with the people of the ECOWAS countries in their ongoing battle against militant terrorism that is plaguing Africa . ” The Islamic State affiliated Boko Haram is very active in West Africa , particularly Nigeria. This was the first ever meeting between an Israeli prime minister and the president of ECOWAS , even though Israel has had a relationship with that organization for the last decade . In addition to Guinea , Mali, Niger and Nigeria, ECOWAS is also made up of the following states : Benin , Burkina Faso, Cape Verde , Coite d ’ Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea – Bissau , Ivory Coast , Liberia , Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.