Israel recalling its own early steps of independence and the close relationship it once had with the emerging nations of Africa, has intensified behind the scenes efforts to renew diplomatic ties with some of the 30 African countries that severed relations during the 1973 Middle East war.
High on the list, according to diplomatic sources, is Uganda, now that Idi Amin has been toppled and moderate leaders have taken his place.
Before leaving on a four-nation tour last week, Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Dayan wrote to Yusufu Lule, president of the Ugandan provisional government, and wished him success in returning the country to demoeracy.
Diplomatic sources said the foreign minister hoped for a positive response that could lead to a dialogue.
With the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty officially in force, Israeli diplomats are said to be stepping up a dialogue with several African nations with which the Foreign Ministry has attempted to maintain some contact over the past six years.
Among the most likely to respond to the initiative, sources said, are the Ivory Coast, Zaire, Tanzania, Kenya and Ghana. Israel maintains varying degrees of informal relations with each, ranging from trade missions to representatives in embassies of other Western-aligned countries.
Some other African states have had informal contacts with Israel involving technical aid, and, in the case of Ethiopia, even military assistance.
The only black African states with formal diplomatic ties to Israel are Malawi, Swaziland and Lesotho. In December, Swaziland Premier Maphevu Dlamini made an official visit to Israel.
Israel hopes that just as a few African states yielded to Arab pressure in 1973 and severed ties with Jerusalem, to be followed by a band-wagon of others, there will be a reverse snowball effect with renewal of relationships.
"If three or four should start, the others may follow. That is the hope anyway," said a government official.
The Foreign Ministry, attempting to avoid the appearance of stampeding African countries, has kept its effort low-key, for the most part declining to discuss the overtures.
The government of Prime Minister Menachem Begin would clearly like to relieve Israei's sense of isolation, and Africa offers that hope. It is also a potential export market that could help reduce Israel's balance of payments deficit.
Still undertermined is the extent to which Israel will pursue a renewal of its presense in Africa. Before the 1973 war, Israel had hundreds of agricultural technicians in Africa, and provided considerable financial aid to some countries.
Whether the government is willing to renew that type of aid, particularly considering the financial burden on Israel in wihtdrawing from the Sinai Peninsula and relocating its military bases, remains a question mark.
Some of Begin's aides are urging a cautious approach, with selective resumption of diplomatic relations in Africa.
Another question mark remains what the reaction of rejectionist Arab-states to any Israeli effort to normalize relations with African states.
While a desire to maintain Third World solidarity was one factor in the decision of some African states to split away from Israel, the most important incentive was a fear of Arab retaliation in the form of economic sanctions, coupled with promises of financial support. Some African countries have expressed disappointment at the amount of aid that has resulted.
The Arab states, so far, have not publicly made clear their intentions toward African nations that renew diplomatic ties with Israel.