Israel to help Kenya secure its borders
The two countries will later today (Monday) sign a memorandum of understanding for cooperation on matters of homeland security.
At separate meetings in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his delegation which includes Internal Security minister George Saitoti, the two Israeli leaders emphasized that Kenya is a critical ally whose stability means a lot to Israel and Africa.
Prime Minister Netanyahu accepted Mr. Odinga’s invitation to visit Kenya early in 2012 as a statement of Israel’s readiness to stand with Kenya.
Mr. Netanyahu went further, and promised to help build "a coalition against fundamentalism" that brings together like-minded regional states including Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Tanzania saying the more nations acting together, the better.
Mr. Netanyahu expressed concern that threats from militants threaten Kenya’s tourism, adding that Kenya’s frustration with fundamentalists is similar to Israel’s and the two countries must stand together.
Earlier on Sunday, President Peres pledged to give Kenya all the support it needs to ensure security within its borders and protect its citizens and economy from the threats posed by criminals.
At a meeting with Prime Minister Odinga in Jerusalem on Sunday, the Israeli President also said Israel is ready to make "everything available to Kenya" for internal security and food production.
Both the Israeli leaders and Mr. Odinga agreed that Kenya and Israel have had a long history of friendship and supporting one another in times of need.
Mr. Odinga who arrived in Israel on Friday began a series of official engagements on Sunday with a meeting with President Peres before meeting Mr. Netanyahu early Monday.
Talking about the ties between Kenya and Israel, Mr. Odinga singled out the Israeli rescue mission that rushed into Nairobi soon after the 1998 terrorist attack on US embassy.
That Israeli mission helped pull people out of the rubble, Mr. Odinga said, adding the death toll would have been higher had the Israelis not rushed in.
President Peres said he has had personal ties with a number of independence Kenyan leaders, among them Jomo Kenyatta, Tom Mboya and Oginga Odinga adding that Kenya has assisted Israel in a number of its internal security challenges and would be willing to work with Kenya.
"Kenya has stood on the side of Israel at its hour of need. Consistently, Kenya has shown a very positive attitude towards Israel and Israel is ready to help," the President said.
At the same time, Mr. Netanyahu called on the international community to rally to Kenya’s side, saying patrolling the high seas is in the interest of all nations, not just Kenya’s.
"Kenya’s enemies are Israel’s enemies so we should be able to help. We have similar forces planning to bring us down. I see it as an opportunity to strengthen our ties," Mr. Netanyahu said.
Mr. Odinga put a strong case for cooperation between Israel and Kenya on security matters. The PM particularly sought help for Kenya’s internal security challenges.
He said Kenya is dealing with a new kind of threat within the nation’s borders.
He said the new kind of criminals that plant explosives inside the country is a new development on which the country needed backing to fight back.
That threat he said called for more advanced and improved security measures, including more surveillance and capacity of Kenya Police to preempt criminals instead of pursuing them after the act.
Mr. Odinga also cited the recruitment of youths in the country into the ranks of Al Shabaab as a threat Kenya has to deal with urgently.
Mr. Odinga said Kenya Israel could help Kenya Police build the capacity to be able to detect militants, know what kind of arms they have and preempt and destroy the networks that recruit youths and kill inside the country.
The internal security threats, combined with the piracy in the Indian Ocean, posed a big threat to Kenya’s economy, particularly tourism and needed to be dealt with urgently.
He appealed for vehicles for border patrol and equipment for sea surveillance.
"We need to be able to convincingly ensure homeland security. Only that will ensure tourists keep coming, our people can go on with their lives as they have always and we don’t lose people who have no reason to die," Mr. Odinga said.
Mr. Odinga also appealed for more assistance with irrigated agriculture particularly in northern Kenya and other arid parts of the country as a way of converting pastoralists to more sedentary life, a proposal to two Israeli leaders promised to support.
President Peres said Israel’s support for Kenya’s agriculture began soon after independence, recalling that over the years, Israel worked closely with founding leaders including Bruce McKenzie, Charles Njonjo, Mboya and President Kenyatta.
The two leaders also discussed the overall security situation in the Horn of Africa and developments in the two Sudans.
Mr. Odinga, together with Prof George Saitoti and Water Minister Charity Ngilu will witness the signing of the MoU on internal security cooperation then hold further talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Avigdor Liberman, Speaker of Knesset Reuven Rivlin and Opposition leader Tzipi Livni. The PM will also attend a Plenary Session of the Knesset.