Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta hailed Israel as a “dear and special friend” during a three-day visit to the country, the first by a Kenyan leader since 1994.
Kenyatta, who is being accompanied on his visit by Kenya’s foreign affairs, internal security, water and health ministers, was welcomed by Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin. Kenyatta praised Israel’s “excellent support” on security matters and said “it is my sincere hope that this visit … will cement the bonds that are already strong and that link our two countries.” Rivlin praised Kenyatta’s “commitment to peace” and said that the two countries stand together against Islamist terrorists “as they murder innocent men, women, and children from all religions and nations.”
Kenya has suffered several Islamist terror attacks, including an al-Shebab attack on a major shopping centre in the capital Nairobi which killed at least 67 people. It is thought that Israeli agents assisted Kenya’s security forces in their response.
Meanwhile, Kenyatta met yesterday with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who praised the “remarkable relationship” between the two countries. Netanyahu said that “Israel is willing and prepared” to work alongside Kenya and other African countries to combat the threat of terror and to develop many other areas of common interest. Kenyatta commented, “The cooperation between our countries since the time of our independence has been formidable.”
During their meeting, Netanyahu and Kenyatta signed a joint statement on bilateral cooperation cyber, energy, agriculture, water, irrigation and public health issues. Netanyahu commented, “Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel.”
Netanyahu is scheduled to visit Kenya and Uganda in the summer, becoming the first Israeli leader to visit sub-Saharan Africa in several decades. The visit will coincide with the 40th anniversary of the daring Entebbe raid, in which Israeli commandos rescued dozens of Jewish hostages from an airport in Uganda, after their plane had been hijacked by Palestinian terrorists. Netanyahu’s brother Yoni was the only Israeli casualty in the operation.