Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu Welcomed In Kenya

Benjamin Netanyahu arrives Kenya on Tuesday. He is on a four-country trip to East Africa, making him the first Israeli prime minister to visit the continent in at least 30 years.

He began his trip on Monday and his first stop was in Uganda. He then proceeded to Kenya where he and his wife, Sara Netanyahu, were welcomed by President Uhuru Kenyatta at 11am on Tuesday.

On arrival to Kenya, he was greeted with a 19-gun salute by Kenya Defence Forces at Kenya’s State House Nairobi before the national anthems of Kenya and Israel were played.

Netanyahu then inspected a guard of honour mounted by a detachment of the Kenya Airforce.

President Kenyatta was in company of First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, several Cabinet Secretaries and the Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces Gen Samson Mwathethe when they received the foreign PM.

The two leaders will hold bilateral talks – that will border on economic, security and how to strengthen their relationships – with their delegations

Later in the afternoon, the two heads of State are scheduled to address a Kenya-Israel business forum.

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Yesterday, the PM arrived at Uganda’s Entebbe’s airport. Netanyahu said Israel’s raid to clear off a hostage crisis 40 years ago, in which his brother was murdered, “changed the course” of his life.

According to him, his trip to Uganda was a deeply moving day for him.

The PM further said:

“Forty years ago they landed in the dead of night in a country led by a brutal dictator who gave refuge to terrorists. Today we landed in broad daylight in a friendly country led by a president who fights terrorists.”

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He was making reference to the incident of June 27, 1976, that saw an Air France plane with 248 passengers hijacked by two Palestinian and two German hijackers.

Majority of the passengers were released, except the Israelis. The Israelis were later freed and airlifted to Israel in a July 4 raid by Israeli commandos. During the operation, Kenya allowed Israeli forces to use its airspace, refuel and treat injured hostages.

“I am not sure people in this country understand how deep is Israel’s appreciation of Kenya’s role in the 1976 Entebbe raid,” Yahel Vilan, the Israeli ambassador to Kenya, told Al Jazeera. “People of my generation and older remember it as if it happened yesterday.”

Netanyahu landed in Uganda with soldiers and pilots who were members of the rescue team. Aside from Uganda and Kenya, Netanyahu is also scheduled to visit Rwanda and Ethiopia. President Uhuru Kenyatta invited Netanyahu for talks on strengthening relations as Kenya seeks to expand international trade.

In February, Uhuru and Netanyahu endorsed an agreement creating chance for stronger relationship on transport, and water and irrigation projects.

The agreements provided for direct flights between Nairobi and Tel Aviv and  for more students studying dry-land farming technologies to be granted admission.

Meanwhile in Uganda, the PM was welcomed with the funny slip by President Yoweri Museveni who kept referring, seemingly erroneously, to Israel as Palestine while addressing Israel’s prime minister.

Uganda’s President Museveni kept talking about a stronger bond with Palestine – in front of Netanyahu – instead of Israel. The internet responded accordingly: