Netanyahu strengthens cooperation with Kenya

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Tuesday before a group of Christian supporters of Israel in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya: “I am glad I have the opportunity, the privilege really of coming to Africa to meet you,” he said.

“We appreciate this friendship and we’re expanding it to the continent of Africa. Yesterday I had a remarkable meeting in Uganda hosted by the President of Uganda, six other African leaders including President Kenyatta. Seven leaders from seven African countries talking about how to expand Israel’s relationship with their countries but with all the countries of Africa,” he continued.

“But at the heart of it, the connection with the people is a very sound idea, it’s the right idea and that’s why I am expecting you in Jerusalem.”

Netanyahu told the Christian audience of the shared heritage binding the two places together and told the story of a boat which was found in the Kinneret which was used during the time of Jesus. “I can’t tell you that Jesus was on that boat but I can tell you that that boat was in the time of Jesus.”

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After inviting his listeners to visit Israel and see for themselves the places “which speak to you and speak to us,” he said that Israel wants to be part for the success story that Africa can be. “Israel is coming back to Africa. Africa is coming back to Israel.”

The prime minister cited various examples of where Israel has flourished, including agriculture, milk production and the country’s ability to solve its water problem. “And we are eager to share all of this with our African friends. This is the importance of this meeting,” he said.

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Netanyahu also drew attention to the treatment to which Christians are subjected in the Middle East, simultaneously highlighting the contrasts with Christian life in Israel.

”In the Middle East today, unfortunately, the attitude towards Christians and Christianity is not a good one. You see what is happening with Daesh in Iraq, what is happening to Christian communities and to the Yazidis and others. There is one place in the Middle East where the Christian community is not only not shrinking, it’s thriving and it’s expanding and it’s safe, and it’s welcome and that place is Israel. You’re welcome in Israel. I’d like to receive you there, in Jerusalem,” he said, prompting a rapturous applause.

Before addressing the Christian audience, Netanyahu participated in a meeting between Israeli and Kenyan businesspeople in an effort to boost economic cooperation between the countries and to increase Israeli exports to Africa.

Accordingly, an agreement was signed to further bilateral economic cooperation with Kenya. In the coming year, Israel will open a commercial attache office in Nairobi. Furthermore, Netanyahu approved an Israeli export program to Africa. “The opportunities I think are great. I think that there is an inflection point, in a certain point that an economy can take off,” he said.

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During the dialogue, Netanyahu also touched upon the contributions Israel can make to Africa vis-a-vis security.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta also delivered a speech in which he welcomed the historic trip. “We are honored that one of the countries that he has chosen to visit is Kenya, which attests to the strong and enduring relations between our two nations,” he said before praising Israeli commandos who “risked their lives to liberate hostages from the death grip of terrorists” in Uganda 40 years earlier.

“We are in ongoing talks about how to strengthen and expand that cooperation so that we can gain from Israel’s expertise in cyber security, amongst other things that we also discussed,” he added.

Kenyatta highlighted that during their discussions, emphasis had been placed on areas of mutual interest including agriculture, water, health and how Kenya can benefit from Israel’s expertise in cyber security.”