Israel’s prime minister has pledged to help Africa fight terrorism on day two of his tour of the continent. Netanyahu said that in matters of security, Africa had no better friend than the state of Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to share intelligence with Kenya and other African countries on Tuesday during a landmark visit geared to improve ties with the region.
“There is a raging battle with terrorism,” Netanyahu said at a joint press conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi.
“If you know an attack will take place, we will take steps to thwart those attacks, that will be direct assistance to save lives,” he told reporters.
The prime minister said Israel and Kenya “face the same challenges” of terrorism, citing the 2013 attack on the Israeli-owned Westgate shopping mall in the Kenyan capital in which at least 67 people were killed by gunmen.
“We have also experienced similar attacks in our country,” Netanyahu said. “Working together will help us defeat the scourge of this terror even faster.”
Kenyatta said his country had a long history of security cooperation with Israel, including the support Kenya gave Israel during a 1976 raid to free more than 100 hostages held by Palestinian and German militants at Uganda’s Entebbe airport. The militants hijacked the plane traveling from Tel Aviv to Paris and forced it to land in Entebbe.
Netanyahu began his Africa trip Monday in Uganda, where he attended a ceremony to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the raid in which his brother Yoni and 30 other people were killed.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu met with Kenyatta to discuss investment opportunities, student exchanges, easing of visa restrictions and opportunities to employ Israeli technologies in health, water and agriculture development.
“Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel,” Netanyahu said. “Africa has no better friend outside of Africa in the practical needs of security and development than the state of Israel.”
Kenyatta also offered his country’s assistance in bringing about peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and said Kenya would propose that Israel be allowed to join the African Union as an observer.
Netanyahu is the first ruling Israeli prime minister to visit sub-Saharan Africa in nearly three decades.
Although Israel played a prominent role in assisting newly independent African countries in the 1960s, relations soured in the decades that followed. Arab countries promising aid pressured African nations to limit or cut ties with Israel. Many African governments also resented Israel’s close ties to South Africa’s apartheid regime.
“We have had difficult relations with Israel as a continent, but the world has changed and we can’t live in history,” Kenyatta said.
Israel sees African countries as potential allies, particularly at the United Nations, where it is regularly condemned over its occupation of the West Bank and blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu is due to travel to Rwanda on Wednesday, where he will meet with President Paul Kagame and visit a memorial to the 1994 genocide, before traveling on to Ethiopia.
nm/kms (dpa, AFP, AP)