Kenyan president at Western Wall. (Courtesy) Kenyan president at Western Wall. (Courtesy)
Kenyan president at Western Wall

‘Even though there are difficulties everywhere in the world, coming to the Holy Land is my greatest pleasure,’ says Kenyan President William Ruto.

By United with Israel staff and Pesach Benson, TPS

Kenyan President William Ruto on Tuesday made a visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, together with his his wife and a large delegation from Kenya, during his official state visit to Israel.

“Israel is a great place,” he said while standing at the wall. “It is good that I have come to Israel. Even though there are difficulties everywhere in the world, coming to the Holy Land is my greatest pleasure.”

The president and delegation members were greeted by the director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, Mordechai Eliav, who showed them findings from the Western Wall Tunnels and explained the connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem.

Ruto expressed interest in the history of the site and of the Jewish people. He stood in prayer at the wall and placed a note between the stones, as is customary.

At the end of the visit, he signed the guestbook.

“May God bless the people and the State of Israel,” Ruto said. “Humanity should never face the isolation and prejudices against our brothers and sisters of the Jewish nation. That we shall be united as a people in peace as one people under God.”

Ruto on Tuesday also held visits with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

During their meeting, Netanyahu and Ruto discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties and signed declarations of intent to boost cooperation in tourism and environmental protection

The two leaders agreed to work together to strengthen economic and diplomatic cooperation between their countries in a range of areas, including the expansion of bilateral trade, technology, cyber-defense, advancing the restoration of a direct air route, water and agriculture.

Ruto also invited Netanyahu to visit Kenya.

Israel and Kenya first established diplomatic relations in 1963, but Kenya along with other African nations severed ties in 1973 following the Yom Kippur War. Despite the lack of relations, then-President Jomo Kenyatta was persuaded to allow Israeli aircraft to cross Kenyan airspace and refuel on Kenyan soil when Israel rescued hostages being held in neighboring Uganda’s Entebbe Airport in 1976.

Israeli-Kenyan ties were restored in 1988. Since then, Israel has assisted Kenya in various initiatives such as solar power, disaster management, border security among others.

In 2002, Al-Qaida killed three Israelis and 10 Kenyans in an attack on an Israeli-owned hotel and charter airplane. Another 80 people were injured.

Israel imports Kenyan agricultural products, while exporting manufactured goods and farming supplies.