Watch: PM welcomes Israel's 'leading' African ally

Kenyan President makes state visit and signs cooperation treaties, as two countries vow to fight 'militant Islamic terror' together.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Binyamin Netanyahu with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta
Binyamin Netanyahu with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta
Haim Zach/GPO/Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to Jerusalem on Tuesday, and went on to sign a joint statement of cooperation on water and agricultural issues, establishing a bilateral committee on the topic.

During their meetings the two discussed security and the fight against terrorism, as well as bilateral cooperation on a bevy of topics including cyber, energy, agriculture, water, irrigation and public health issues.

Netanyahu told his Kenyan counterpart that "we have had a remarkable relationship between our two peoples. It's a partnership that dates back over half a century. Your father, Jomo Kenyatta, is the founding father of the Kenyan nation, and the leader of your country's struggle for independence. He was also the architect of the friendship between Israel and Kenya."

"He demonstrated that friendship most dramatically 40 years ago in helping Israel in the raid in Entebbe to rescue our hostages. This is something that has left a deep imprint on Israel. The people of Israel are grateful for that. And I'm personally grateful for that. We have since developed our relationship in so many areas and it's a growing relationship."

According to Netanyahu, the first area for cooperation is "a battle, our common battle against militant Islamic terrorism."

"Both our peoples have suffered at the hand of these, at the hands of these brutal terrorists. We have no illusions about them. ...Israel is willing and prepared to work with African countries in our common battle against militant Islamic terrorism. ...Israel is prepared to work with Kenya and the countries of Africa.  And I want to say that you are, in many ways, leading this direction. And I welcome that not merely in the context of our relationship with Kenya but in our relationship with the countries of Africa. Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel."

Kenyatta in turn thanked Netanyahu for his warm welcome, and said, "for us this is a historic visit, as you have just mentioned. The strong partnership between Kenya and Israel stems all the way back to our independence, actually prior to our independence given the fact that your government made formal communication even to my own father while he was still actually on house arrest."

"With the spirit of us working together, we are both countries have had to struggle for our independence, we have fought for our independence and as such we value the issues of sovereignty, of independence and for the right to self-determination. We are founded on strong principles of democracy, strong principles of freedom of expression, principles of freedom of religious expression and I think this brings us together in many ways."

The Kenyan President noted that the two nations have "similar security concerns...we have no room for extremism, we must do everything that we can to protect the freedoms and the beliefs and the principles and the common values that we share and we look forward to further strengthening our cooperation in the security area."

Earlier on Tuesday Kenyatta was welcomed by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at his residence in Jerusalem. Rivlin spoke about the shared "pain" in facing terrorism, saying, "Israel stands together with Kenya against those who pretend to speak in the name of Islam, as they murder innocent men, women, and children from all religions and nations."

Kenyatta in response told Rivlin 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 corporation." 

He added that "the war on terrorism is international and we must all join hands together to defeat it."