Kenya set to help restore Israeli ties with Africa



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. Credit: Kobi Gideon (GPO).

( Kenya will work to help restore Israel's observer status in the African Union, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced on Tuesday at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Nairobi.

Netanyahu is currently on a four-nation tour of Africa, where he is seeking to restore and strengthen ties with the continent. Kenyatta said that Africa needs to reassess its relationship with Israel in order to better deal with global challenges.

The biggest challenge is terrorism "by deranged people who believe in no religion and threaten men, women and children across the globe," Kenyatta said, the Kenyan Daily Nation newspaper reported.

Netanyahu, the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Kenya, said regarding Kenyatta's announcement. "I think that this is significant. This will have an impact in Africa now, but I think that it will have very considerable effect regarding Israel's international relations in the future, vis-à-vis our effort to bring about a very great number of countries that support Israel." 

Israel lost its observer status with the African Union, formerly known as the Organization of African Unity, in 2002. The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, does hold member status with the African body. 

Both leaders also mentioned Kenya's role in Operation Entebbe in 1976, in which fighter jets carrying Israeli commandos were allowed to land at the Jomo Kenyatta airport in Kenya to refuel on their way to raid the Entebbe airport in Uganda, where a plane that was hijacked by terrorists was being held along with 260 hostages.

Netanyahu's tour began in Uganda, where he marked the 40th anniversary of the Israeli special rescue mission in which his brother, Yonatan, was killed while trying to rescue the hostages.
Following the ceremony, the prime minister attended an African summit with seven African nations, a development that he said brings "a monumental change in the relations between Israel and Africa." Netanyahu will also visit Rwanda and Ethiopia during his tour this week.

Posted on July 5, 2016 .