Kenya attends US embassy move gala as Israel faces outcry over Gaza

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Kenya was among countries that attended celebrations to mark United States’ move of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Sunday night, it has emerged.

A senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, who did not want to be named, confirmed on Tuesday that Kenyan officials attended the gala hosted by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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The others were Angola, Cameroon, Congo, the DRC, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia.

Notably, Kenya was among 21 countries that failed to vote at the UN General Assembly in a resolution aimed at condemning Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Consequently, the country was invited to a January 3 US reception for United Nations member-states that did not vote in the resolution.

Most of the European Union ambassadors in Israel are reported to have boycotted.

According to the Times of Israel, European foreign ministries on Monday slammed the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, saying “it violates international law, is unwise and is likely to exacerbate tensions, shortly before the embassy’s dedication ceremony began in Jerusalem”.

On Monday, international media, quoting the Gaza Health Ministry, said at least 58 people were shot dead by Israeli forces and about 1,113 injured during demonstrations against the embassy relocation as Palestinians prepared to mark 70 years since the Nakba, or catastrophe — the day on which the state of Israel was established on May 15, 1948.

The Israel embassy in Kenya, however, put the number at 49.

Deputy Ambassador Michael Baror said they were sorry for the loss of lives, and added that their problem is with the regime, not Palestinians.

He blamed Hamas for attempting to destabilise the region and promote terror.

“These are not people fighting for their rights. They are hurting their own people. On Friday, some demonstrators entered and attacked the Garden of Peace, the main crossing channel for food and fuel to the Palestinians. Are these people honest?” Baror asked.

He also said Hamas wanted to mobilise about a million people to cross the border and that clashes started when about 40,000 attempted to cross over and attack villages in Jerusalem, resulting in the bloodiest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since a 2014 Gaza war.

“They had clear instructions to bring a weapon — a knife or a gun — and force their way across the border, not use them unless there was need to capture Israeli soldiers and residents,”  Baror said.

This was corroborated on Tuesday by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who blamed Hamas for the dozens of deaths in Gaza for “pushing people to the border. In that conflict zone, you’re basically pushing people into circumstances where they are very likely to be shot at.”

He  spoke to Melbourne Radio 3AW on Tuesday.

Some countries, among them South Africa and Turkey, have recalled their ambassadors to Israel over the violence. Ankara also recalled its envoy to the US for “consultations”.

In a statement released on Monday, African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki “strongly condemned the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli army, which resulted in the killing of over 50 Palestinian demonstrators, while many more were wounded”.

Faki said the relocation of the US embassy will only heighten tensions in the region and complicate the search for a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as illustrated by Monday’s clashes.

In December last year, the African Union retaliated their support for Palestine in its quest for an independent and sovereign State with East Jerusalem as its capital.

By ELIUD KIBII

-the-star.co.ke

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