Address by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman at the signing ceremony renewing the Cooperation Agreement with HABITAT
Nairobi, 5 September 2009
The Honorable Executive Director of HABITAT, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka,
Distinguished Ministers, Members of Parliament,
Guests and Friends
I am very pleased to participate in this signing ceremony renewing Israel’s agreement of cooperation with HABITAT, and I am glad that this is taking place in Nairobi, Kenya where HABITAT is headquartered.
Kenya and Israel have much in common – based on shared values and mutual respect, freeing ourselves from foreign rule and racism, and building modern nation states that also reflect our cultural and historic legacies. These are thing that we share with the nations of Africa as a whole, too, but with Kenya we also share a physical link – the Syrian-African Great Rift Valley which connects Kenya and Israel. Even the migrating birds every year fly south for the winter over the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River and the Dead Sea to rest on the shores of Lake Nakuru and in Baringo, Kenya until they return along the same route in the spring.
Kenya and Israel share a long history of friendship and this has been seen in our close cooperation in such areas as agriculture, health, local government, education, and security. Both our nations face similar challenges deriving to a large degree from our arid and semi-arid areas, periods of drought, and the need to develop techniques and technology for efficient water management given the lack of sufficient natural water resources. Population growth in both countries has been rapid, and we have to provide proper solutions for developing housing and its accompanying infrastructures, utilizing efficiently and to the maximum minimal natural resources.
Since Israel was reborn as a modern state in 1948, our population has increased by about ten times its original size and today Israel’s population numbers 7.3 million. Kenya’s population has grown to about 40 million.
We are more than happy to share our accumulated experience and knowledge with our friends in Kenya and with many other countries in Africa and around the world.
HABITAT, itself, has done wonders and has an impressive record in addressing the needs and problems of urbanization, especially in poor neighborhoods. Present with us here today is the Executive Director of HABITAT, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, whose energetic leadership has enabled HABITAT to reach the most difficult areas when it comes to housing problems, and under her leadership HABITAT has made a positive difference on all levels.
We in Israel hold Mrs. Tabaijuka and HABITAT in high esteem and appreciate the very important work that they have done. In cooperation with HABITAT we have been able together to develop and enhance construction capabilities in Africa, South America, and Asia. The renewal today of our cooperation agreement with HABITAT testifies to the importance that Israel, Kenya, and HABITAT attach to these issues and to the success that we have enjoyed in addressing them together.
Three years since Israel and HABITAT have begun working together, we can look forward to many more years of joint and productive work that will benefit the poor of the world.
May we see in the years ahead dramatic positive results from this cooperation that will benefit us all.