Diplomacy

Kenyan FM: Most African Countries “See Israel as a Very Close Friend”

Claims that Israel is being diplomatically isolated are not true because the majority of African countries “see Israel as a very close friend,” the foreign minister of Kenya told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Amina Mohamed, who is on a visit to Israel with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, said that Israel “has more friends than not on the continent.”  She pointed to the growing economic ties between African countries and Israel. Although Mohamed acknowledged that “it is very difficult to break the African bloc” that often votes against Israel at the United Nations, she noted that Kenya and other countries “actually have been quite courageous in breaking away sometimes.” Kenya sided with Israel in a vote at the International Atomic Energy Agency last September.

Mohamed stressed the importance of high-level Israeli trips to the continent, and said that her country was “obviously looking forward” to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned trip to Kenya and Uganda in the summer to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Israeli rescue of hostages from the Entebbe airport. Kenya helped Israel in carrying out the Entebbe raid, and Israel rendered aid when al-Qaeda blew up the American embassy in Nairobi in 1998. Israel has also assisted Kenya in fighting al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate based in Somalia.

“High level visits bring their own wind with them,” she said. “They enhance their relationship, they make it clear to everybody, send a very clear signal that these two countries agree to cooperate on the highest level, speak the same language, and deal with issues in the same manner. It is an affirmation that this is a strong relationship.”

“Israel is proud of the cooperation between our peoples,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said when he formally greeted Kenyatta on Tuesday. “Thanks to MASHAV [Israel’s international aid agency] we are working to educate people, develop agriculture, and protect the environment. It is my hope this cooperation will continue to grow and that the close ties between our people will become stronger. Your visit is an important step in building this friendship.”

“It is my sincere hope that this visit will cement the bonds that are already strong, and link our two countries,” Kenyatta responded. “Let me assure you, Mr. President, that we in Kenya hold Israel as a dear and very special friend. This is a friendship not only born out of a long history of fraternal relations, but is also manifested in very real and concrete corporation in a number of important areas,” including “defense, water resource management, fisheries, education, technology and scientific cooperation….The war on terrorism is international and we must all join hands together to defeat it.”

[Photo: Capital FM Kenya / YouTube ]