Kenya says to lead Africa's efforts to enhance ties with Israel
06 July 2016, 08:00
Nairobi - Kenya will promote enhanced relations between African countries and Israel, President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Tuesday after a meeting with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the capital Nairobi.
During a joint news conference, Kenyatta said Kenya would lead efforts to have Israel recognized as an African Union (AU) observer.
"This is something we are ready to champion," Kenyatta said, referring to the proposals to grant Israel the observer status.
Relations between Israel and the AU have been soured by the AU's acknowledgement of the Palestinian National Authority, whose leader Mohamud Abbas regularly addresses the AU Heads of State Assembly.
Kenyatta said Kenya was prepared to take the challenge of reuniting Israel and Africa, adding: "Israel's relations with its Middle East neighbours are at its best ever."
African leaders are due to attend an AU summit in Kigali, Rwanda, from July 10-18, during which the request by Israel to be included as an observer of the 54-member body might be discussed.
Israel had been an observer of the Organization of African Unity until the body was disbanded and replaced by AU in 2002.
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Kenyatta said Israel's observer status at the AU would enhance ties between the continent and Israel, which he said would advance Africa's interests in fighting terrorism.
"We look forward to further re-engagements for the prosperity of our people," Kenyatta said.
Kenya and Israel have developed strong cooperation on matters of agriculture and water technologies.
During his visit, Netanyahu and Kenyatta discussed issues in the health and immigration areas.
They attended a farewell ceremony for Kenyan students leaving for Israel for further studies in water technologies and irrigation as part of an Israel-funded program.
Netanyahu's maiden tour of Africa started with a visit to Entebbe, Uganda on Monday, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the Israeli commando raid on Entebbe airport which freed Israeli hostages from a hijacked plane.
He will also visit Rwanda and Ethiopia.