Netanyahu Hints at Further Visits to Muslim Countries as He Departs for Chad

Prime minister says Israel is creating a dramatic change in the Muslim world and that this enrages Iran and the Palestinians

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Chad President Idriss Déby in Israel, November 2018.
Amos Ben Gershom / GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that he would be visiting other Muslim countries as he departed for Chad early Sunday.

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Noting that Chad shares borders with Libya and Sudan, Netanyahu said that his visit was "part of the dramatic change we are making in the Muslim and Arab world."

The prime minister said this change was "very disturbing, and even enraging, for Iran and for the Palestinians, who are trying to prevent this. They did not succeed.

"And second: there will be more to come," Netanyahu said. Asked for a timeframe, Netanyahu said: "A little patience. But not long."

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The prime minister is expected to land in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, on Sunday morning for a visit of less than 24 hours. He will meet with President Idriss Deby at the presidential palace, after which the two leaders will deliver statements to the media focusing on the renewal of ties.

Netanyahu will have lunch with Deby before flying back to Israel.

Deby came to Israel in November and met with Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin. He said that “the cutting of diplomatic ties in the 1970s did not prevent good relations,” which continued all the same.

In his statement to the media alongside Netanyahu, Deby said: “We have a shared struggle against the sickening evil of this century, which is terrorism.”

Netanyahu said at that press conference that he and Deby had talked about “changes in relations between Israel and the Arab world” and that he would be visiting some Arab countries “very soon.”

But Deby said that renewed ties between the two countries “won’t eliminate the Palestinian problem,” noting that he has reiterated at the United Nations that he hopes for a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Before Deby’s visit to Israel, sources in Chad told Reuters that he would focus on security issues – after Israel supplied Chad last year with weapons and equipment to fight rebels in the north of the country. In response to a question from Haaretz in November during Deby’s tour of southern Israel, he said Israel was an important ally in the fight against terror. He did not deny the arms deals.

The leader of the left-wing Meretz party, Tamar Zandberg, said Saturday that she would ask the Foreign Ministry to publish Netanyahu’s complete schedule for the visit and the list of participants “to ensure that no dubious arms deals are concluded.”

According to Amnesty International, Chad’s current government prevents nonviolent assembly, arrests human rights activists and journalists, and has imposed severe restrictions on organizing, criminalizing some civil society organizations.

In 2005, Deby, who has ruled Chad since 1990, changed the country’s constitution to allow him to be elected for a third term. International observers said that elections Deby won had many irregularities.

Last April, Chad’s parliament approved a further change in the constitution that expanded Deby’s powers and allowed him to remain in office until 2033. The opposition parties boycotted the vote, which abolished the office of prime minister and made Chad’s regime presidential, with the intention of turning the country into a monarchy.