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KENYA-ISRAEL RELATIONS
 
Historical background

The bilateral relations between Kenya and Israel have grown in leaps and bounds. These relations can be traced way back over 100 years ago when on August 1903 the then British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain offered the Zionists a part of Kenyan territory through the edict called the “Uganda scheme” for their autonomous State at the 6th Zionist Congress.

Although this suggestion created much controversy among the international Jewish Community, and was subsequently rejected at the 7th Zionist Congress, in 1905, several Jewish families immigrated to Kenya culminating in building of a Jewish Synagogue in Nairobi in 1913. Jewish settlement in Kenya therefore, began in the early 1900s. At the moment several hundred Kenyans of Jewish origin live and call Kenya their first home.

When the British set up a detention camp in gilgil, a town in the Kenyan Rift Valley in March 1947, in-order to hold captured members of the “Irgun” and “Lehi” Jewish underground organizations deported from Palestine, it was the Jewish community who had emigrated a few years into Kenya who took care of these prisoners. This rich history of our relations was re-lived by some of the remnant prisoners when they visited the grave site of their colleagues in Gilgil early in the year 2010.

Diplomatic and Political Relations

Israel was the first country on 10th December, 1963, to lay a foundation stone for her Embassy in Kenya, two (2) days before the declaration of Kenya’s independence on 12th December, 1963. Israel was also the first country to build her Embassy in Nairobi. While many countries around the globe played a “wait and see” diplomatic approach following the exit of the British from Kenya, Israel’s then Foreign Affairs Minister, Golda Meir flew to Nairobi and discussed the country’s plans to establish the Embassy in Kenya with H.E. Jomo Kenyatta, the Founding President of Kenya.

Kenya and Israel have had therefore very cordial relations ever since. Although these relations ruptured in 1973 when the organization of African Unity (OAU), Member States, including Kenya, resolved to sever ties with Israel because of the Arab – Israeli war of 1973 (Yom Kippur War), both countries continued to have low level people-people relations.

However, on 23rd December, 1988 Kenya re-established Diplomatic relations with Israel. The historic visit to Israel in January, 1994 by Kenya’s former President Daniel Arap Moi enhanced further the bilateral relations. Thereafter, Kenya’s first Ambassador to Israel was appointed in March, 1994.

Israel is forever grateful to Kenya for supporting the Entebbe raid. Kenya is also grateful to Israel for among others, the rescue assistance extended during the bombings of the US Embassy in Nairobi in 1998 and the collapsed building in Nairobi in early 2006.

The relations between the two countries are productive and friendly in various fields and are underpinned by strong people to people ties, offering a strong basis for future growth. Both countries are looking to closer co-operation in political, trade and economic relations, science and technology, culture and academic exchanges.

Bilateral Relations between the two countries have been cemented through the signing of several Agreements and Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) on:
  • Agreement on Cooperation in Public Security Issues between Kenya and Israel on 14th November, 2011
  • Memorandum of Understanding on Fisheries cooperation, 2011.
  • Memorandum of Understanding on Defense cooperation, 2010.
  • Agreement on Classified Technology, 2009.
  • Agreement on Water Resource Management, Technologies, Irrigation and Capacity Building, 2009.
  • Memorandum of Understanding on Consultations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel, 2007.
  • Cultural, educational and Scientific Cooperation, 1994
  • Bilateral Air Services Agreement, 1990.
  • Agreement on Technical and Scientific Cooperation, 1989.

Development Cooperation under MASHAV

Israel is not a donor country, however, the Israeli Government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs disburses her technical assistance to developing countries including Kenya in form of training through the Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV).

MASHAV provides a significant number of training opportunities for Kenyans in various specialized fields. Training opportunities for Kenyans under MASHAV and other training arrangements have seen a major growth in recent years. Indeed, Kenya ranks as the highest recipient of MASHAV Technical Assistance.

For more information on training opportunities please visit www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Mashav or visit website of the Embassy of Israel in Nairobi

The following MASHAV programmes/courses are offered in Israel:



PROGRAMME/COURSE INSTITUTION
Integrated Urban-Rural Development Weitz Center for Development studies
Plant Protection and Inspection Services Centre for International Agricultural Development cooperation (CINADCO)
Entrepreneurship for Youth – A tool to Poverty Alleviation Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training
Postgraduate Training in Medicine Tel Aviv University
Organic Farming Principles and Practices CINADCO
Postgraduate Course on Food Management Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Co-operative Development (enterprises Development) Negev institute for Strategies of Peace and Development (NISPED)
Postgraduate Course on aquaculture; production and management Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Comprehensive and Integrative Public Support Systems for SMEs – A Central factor of Development Studies Negev institute for strategies of peace and Development (NISPED)
Research and Development in New concepts in integrated Pest Management CINADCO
Media for Social Change Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center
Postgraduate Course on Groundwater Exploration, Water Resources Exploitation and Conservation Hebrew University of Jerusalem
International training of Trainers Course Communication for Development Golda Meir Mount Carmel international Training Center
International Master of Public Health Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Master of Social Studies (Urban Planning) Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Master of Desert Ecology Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Sexual Health and AIDs Prevention for Adolescents Ofri International Training Center Jerusalem
Water Resources Management and Urban Supply CINADCO
Advanced international Postgraduate Course on the Meteorology and Environmental aspects of sustainable Water Management WMO Regional meteorological training centre for Postgraduate Training in applied Meteorology, Bet Dagon
International Post Graduate Training in Medicine Tel Aviv University
Education for Sustainable Development Ofri International Training Center, MASHAV

HIGH LEVEL VISITS

The Historical visit by the Former Kenya's President Daniel Arap Moi culminated with the establishment of the Kenya Embassy in Israel in 1994.

Visit by the Prime Minister of Kenya to Israel

The Rt. Hon. Raila A. Odinga, the Prime Minister of Kenya made an official six-day visit to the State of Israel following an invitation by the Israeli Prime Minister, H.E. Benyamin Netanyahu from 11th to 16th November, 2011

During the visit, the Prime Minister of Kenya held meeting with senior Israeli Government officials including the President of the State, H.E. Shimon Peres, his counterpart, H.E. Benyamin Netanyahu, Hon. Reuven Rivlin, the Speaker of the Knesset; Hon. Tzipi Livni, MK, leader of the Kadima Party and the official opposition and other Ministers including Hon. Shalom Simhon, Minister of Trade and Industry and Labour.

The Prime Minister also was the Chief Guest at the official opening of the 6th International Exhibition and 3rd International Conference on Water Technologies, Renewable Energy and Environmental Control (WATEC) in Tel Aviv on 15th November, 2011.

Prime Minister also held a meeting with prominent Israeli business community members from various sectors. The forum was organized by the Kenya Embassy in Israel in conjunction with Mr. Shlomo Grofman, an Israeli businessman and Co-Chair of Faire Fund Shoval Grofman Real Estate.

In his address, the Prime Minister welcomed the Israeli businessmen to invest in Kenya and encouraged them to take advantage of the opportunities available in Kenya in various sectors including: Telecommunication, infrastructure development, agriculture, water technology, Education, Health, Information Communication and Technology (ICT) and Tourism among others. He emphasized that Kenya is strategically located and being a member of both the EAC and COMESA trading blocs, the country provides an outlet to a market of more than 300 Million people.

It is expected that the Israeli Premier will make a reciprocal State visit to Kenya later this year (2012).

OTHER VISITS

Other High Level Visits

There have been numerous other high-level visits to/from Israel, both official and private, that have been conducted in the recent past including:
  • Speaker of the National Assembly – Hon. Kenneth Marende, 6th -10th March, 2011.
  • Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs – Hon. Mutula Kilonzo, 28th November – 3rd December, 2010 and on 3rd – 8th December, 2011
  • Minister of State for Defense – Hon. Mohammed Yusuf Haji, 31st October – 3rd November, 2010
  • Police Commissioner, Mr. Mathew Iteere, 12th - 17th September, 2010
  • Minister for Cooperative Development and Marketing, Hon. Joseph Nyaga, 26th – 29th June 2010
  • Minister of State for Provincial Administration and Internal Security, Hon. Professor George Saitoti, 7th -12th February, 2010 and on 11th to 16th November, 2011
  • Minister for Medical Services, Hon. Prof. Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, 7th – 12th December, 2009
  • Minister for Fisheries Development, Hon. Dr. Paul Otuoma Nyongesa, attended the 5th International Water Technologies (WATEC), 17th -19th November, 2009
  • Minister for Gender, Children and Social Development, Hon. Esther Murugi Mathenge, attended the International Conference and Expert Meeting on the Global Financial Crisis – Implications for Women from 8th–12th November, 2009
  • Minister for Information and Communication, Hon. Samuel Losuron Poghisio, 20th – 24th October, 2009
  • Minister for Nairobi Metropolitan Affairs, Hon. Robinson N. Githae in 26th – 29th September, 2009
  • Former Minister for Agriculture, Hon. William Ruto, attended the 17th International Agricultural Exhibition, 5th – 7th May 2009.
  • Minister of Water and Irrigation, Hon. Mrs. Charity Kaluki Ngilu, attended the 17th International Agricultural Exhibition, 5th – 6th May, 2009 and on 11th to 16th November, 2011.

KENYA-ISRAEL TRADE RELATIONS

Bilateral trade between Kenya and Israel has steadily grown in recent years although largely in favour of Israel. There are currently about 50 companies in Kenya owned by Israelis or representing Israeli firms and who have invested and are selling Israeli products in the fields of agriculture, telecommunications, construction, irrigation equipment, and veterinary and human medicine. A number of them export their products to Israel as well as other countries.

Kenya main exports to Israel consists of fresh products and animal products, wood and wood manufactured products, plant and vegetable products, precious stones and metals, prepared foodstuffs, rubber, paper and paper products, plastics, hides and leather, textile and textile articles.

Kenya Imports from Israel include: footwear, headgear, non-metallic mineral products, base metals, and transport, Security, machinery and electrical equipments, rubber and plastics, chemical products, optical and medical products, plant and vegetable products, paper and paper products.

The trade statistics between Kenya and Israel in recent years are as follows:

YEAR   EXPORTS (US$)    IMPORTS (US$)     TOTAL (US$)
 
2001     25,300,000             24,200,000                49,500,000
2002     20,200,000             27,500,000                47,700,000
2003     21,300,000             36,600,000                57,900,000
2004     14,900,000             46,700,000                61,600,000
2005     20,600,000             49,000,000                69,600,000
2006     18,200,000             47,800,000                66,000,000
2007     22,900,000             97,000,000              119,900,000
2008     23,600,000           113,400,000              137,000,000
2009     24,205,000              66,500,000               99,705,000
2010     18,900,000              49,400,000               68,300,000
2011     18,700,000              61,400,000               80,100,000
(Source: Israel Central Bureau of Statistics and Kenya Bureau of Statistics)


CULTURAL EXCHANGES AND TOURISM

Cultural Exchanges

Kenya and Israel have had frequent cultural exchanges in the past. Groups of Kenyan cultural dancers, singers and pilgrims used to make frequent visits to Israel. However, the numbers and frequency of cultural exchanges was affected by the Intifada in Israel and terrorist threats in Kenya.

In the recent years, the number of Kenyan pilgrims to Israel has been on the rise.

Tourism

The number of Israeli tourists to Kenya drastically declined after the terrorist attacks on various Israeli interests in Mombasa in 2002 and after which Israel discontinued direct flights to Kenya by EL Al and Arkia Charter flights.

The situation is steadily improving through concerted marketing by the Embassy. A future re-introduction of direct air-link between Kenya and Israel would improve this situation, especially bearing in mind that there exists a signed a Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA).

Areas for Further Cooperation between the two countries include:
  • Technology transfer in security, detection of small arms and light weapons.
  • Training and capacity building in security and counter-terrorism.
  • Capacity building and assistance in disaster management.
  • Assistance in enhancing airport security and training of air marshals.
  • Capacity building in the areas of agriculture, education, irrigation development, water management, aquaculture, environmental protection, health and disaster management.
  • Technology transfer in hi-tech, science, and research and development in the field of agriculture, water management, irrigation and health.

 
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