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Israeli PM Visits Kenya in Renewal of Ties


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta shake hands at State House in Nairobi, Kenya, July 5, 2016. Netanyahu is in Kenya as part of his four-nation tour of Africa.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta shake hands at State House in Nairobi, Kenya, July 5, 2016. Netanyahu is in Kenya as part of his four-nation tour of Africa.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped in Kenya Tuesday as part of a tour of four African countries.

Upon arriving in Nairobi Netanyahu was greeted by an honor guard detachment from the Kenyan Air Force.

The Israeli prime minister later told reporters his trip is about rebuilding ties with Africa.

“We believe that Africa is a continent on the rise and a rising tide will help everyone. A rising tide lifts all ships and working together, we all stand to benefit.”

Investment and security cooperation are high on the agenda.

Netanyahu said Israel is united with African countries against terrorism, calling it a “common war.”

His host, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, reiterated the point.

“The single biggest challenge that we face not only as a nation, not only as a continent, but as a community of nations is the threat against our security caused by these deranged people who believe in no religion but who threaten the livelihoods of innocent men, women and children across the globe,” Kenyatta said.

Netanyahu’s visit is the first to Africa by an Israeli leader in three decades.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second from left, stops to talk with a soldier as he inspects a guard of honor at Nairobi State House in Nairobi, Kenya, July 5, 2016.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second from left, stops to talk with a soldier as he inspects a guard of honor at Nairobi State House in Nairobi, Kenya, July 5, 2016.

Overcoming strained relations

Relations became strained after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Many African nations, including Kenya, cut diplomatic ties with Israel. Israel's friendship with the apartheid regime in South Africa was also a point of contention.

But analysts say Israel is looking for new allies. African votes at the U.N. and other international bodies matter as Israel comes under pressure over its nuclear program and settlement efforts in the West Bank.

Africa is also a key emerging market. Dr. Mummoh Nzau, a Kenyan governance and national security strategist, believes that’s why the continent is attractive to Israel.

“You have China. You have Turkey. You have many other countries, the BRICS and so on, that are making a lot of headway in these parts and therefore [Israel is] making a move in order to guard her own interests and to build common platforms of cooperation with African states especially in the realm of security, agriculture, energy and commerce,” Nzau said.

Israel has announced a $13 million aid package for the continent.

Netanyahu visited Uganda Monday. He heads to Rwanda before ending his tour in Ethiopia.

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