By Samuel Ndalusia
November 30th, 2017
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 expected by the Jubilee government to grace the swearing in ceremony for President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto at the Safaricom stadium in Kasarani. However, the all-powerful Prime Minister gave the swearing-in fete a wide berth regardless of the initial claims by the Jubilee government officials that he had confirmed his attendance to the inauguration ceremony at the Moi International Sports Complex Kasarani as was scheduled.
This being Mr Netanyahu’s third visit to the African continent in the past one and a half years, it is strongly believed that his visit to Kenya on Tuesday afternoon was meant to bolster Israel’s relations with Africa and try to position Israel on the international stage. Israel has been seeking to have African nations renounce their historical ‘automatic’ support at the United Nations for Palestinian independence and consequently refrain from criticising Tel Aviv policies in the occupied territories.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been quoted before saying: “Africa is as high as it has ever been in the pyramid of our foreign policy interests except, perhaps, in the 1960s…..The first interest is to dramatically change the situation regarding African votes at the UN and other international bodies from opposition to support…..There are 54 countries in Africa; we want to erode the opposition and change it to support.”
According to an Israeli media, Jerusalem Post, the Israeli Premier did not attend the swearing in at the 60,000 seat Safaricom stadium in Kasarani because of security concerns that had been raised by the Israeli security agencies. “Rather, after landing in the morning and being received in an official ceremony, Netanyahu is scheduled to take part in an event at the Presidential palace, where he will have a joint meeting with some 10 African leaders,” wrote Jerusalem Post.
“The Shin Bet Security Service has therefore not green-lighted for Netanyahu to appear at Nairobi’s Kasarani Stadium out of concern for his safety,” reported The Israel Times, another Israeli media.
The Israeli Premier however attended a luncheon at the Nairobi’s State House where the main reason for his visit to the country became apparent as he held bilateral talks with other African government leaders including with the presidents of Rwanda, Uganda, Botswana and Zambia. A western diplomatic official had this to say of Netanyahu’s visit to Kenya: “This is a way of building strong relations with Africa, and Kenya is a major player in East Africa.”
Speaking at the luncheon in State House, Nairobi Mr Netanyahu said that Israel would intensify its co-operation with the African nations in matters concerning security, technology and agriculture. “This is my third visit to Africa and second to Kenya, we believe in the future of Africa, we love Africa and I would like very much not only to cooperate with Africa but also with the African Union,” said the Israeli Premier adding that: “I hope we will all find a way to help Israel have an observer status in the African Union because we can help build a better future for Africa.”
“If we work together we will defeat the barbarians. Our people deserve better lives and we can provide that for them,” continued Israel Premier who also serves as the Israeli foreign minister.
Speaking at his Likud faction meeting on Monday, just a day before his travel to Kenya, Mr Netanyahu said: “There has never before been anything like this, in political, security, economic or social terms. Israel is now in the best situation it has been in since its founding.”
According to The Israel Times, Mr Netanyahu is scheduled to hold talks with the French President Emmanuel Macron on December 10, after which he will be expected to travel to Brussels for a summit of the foreign ministers of all 28 member countries in the European Union. He received an invitation to attend the EU summit from the Lithuanian foreign minister, making his attendance to the summit the first in 22 years since an Israeli leader made an appearance at any European Union meeting.