Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary General, Dr. Saeb Erekat on Thursday evening released a press statement showing his concern over Kenyan president’s visit, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, to occupied East Jerusalem and to an illegal Israeli settlement in the Jordan Valley, while in company of Israeli authorities this past week.
President Kenyatta three-day trip to Israel, was the first by a Kenyan head of state since 1994.
He held bilateral talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and agreed to strengthen the existing security cooperation, especially in the war against terrorism.
On Tuesday, President Kenyatta and the Israeli Prime Minister signed an agreement paving the way for stronger collaboration in water and irrigation.
However, he visited Israel without arranging any visit to the occupied Palestinian territories or meeting with any of the Palestinian National Authority (PA) officials.
According to Dr. Erekat’s statement,
“This visit breached Kenya’s obligations not to recognize as lawful a situation created through the illegal use of force and other violations of peremptory norms under international law. The State of Palestine will raise this issue within the context of the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. No one has the right to visit in these territories without an in-advance coordination with the Palestinian leadership.”
In addition, in the statement, the PLO emphasizes that international treaties consider the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1967 as part of the state of Palestine territories.
Hanan Ashrawi, senior PLO official, said in the PLO statement that “such behaviors boost the Israeli occupation and create a position of collusion between Kenya and the Israeli occupation.”
Ashrawi called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Arab League and the Organization of African Unity to declare their rejection to such behaviors and take measures to correct this situation.
However, Mr. Kenyatta and his official team continued with their schedule, without changing or canceling any of their meetings.
According to the Kenyan media, Mr. Kenyatta visited the Wolfson Medical Centre in Tel Aviv where more than 20 Kenyan children have received heart surgery, while others are awaiting to be airlifted to the hospital through the Save a Child’s Heart Kenya, an NGO based in that city.
Also, currently 75 Kenyan students are learning new farming technologies in an Israeli kibbutz which Mr. Kenyatta visited. According to his speech at the kibbutz, he will send more Kenyan students to learn dryland farming technologies and automated agriculture in Israel, once that this technology of harnessing harsh and dry lands to produce crops can be used to increase food production in Kenya.
Mr Kenyatta is known internationally for being accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of crimes against humanity for allegedly inciting ethnic violence after Kenya elections in 2007, in which more than 1,200 Kenyans were killed.
The case was dropped in 2014 after the prosecutor’s office said it did not have enough evidence against him. He denied the charges.