Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Chad on Saturday night, nearly half a decade after the Muslim-majority African country severed relations with Israel, for a visit that will include the formal renewal of ties. The trip will be the first-ever to Chad by an Israeli premier.
Chadian President Idriss Deby made an official visit to Israel in November and said during his visit that "the cutting of diplomatic ties in the 1970s did not prevent good relations" between the two nations.
Deby's visit was mainly focused on security issues, sources in Chad said, adding that Israel has supplied the Chadian army with weaponry and other equipment this year to help in its fight against northern rebels.
Deby's visit was the first visit by a Chadian president since Israel was founded in 1948, which Netanyahu said reflects "the risings status of Israel among the nations." However the visit did not entail a formal renewal of relations and came amid heavy diplomatic efforts led by Netanyahu. The prime minister's upcoming visit will entail a formal renewal of relations.
During his visit, at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Deby stressed that a renewal of ties wouldn’t remove the Palestinian issue from the agenda, noting that he had said repeatedly at the United Nations that his country wants to see peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Deby has been president since 1990. In April, Chad's parliament approved a new constitution that expanded Deby's powers and could allow him to serve until 2033.
In its 2017/2018 report on Chad, Amnesty International noted: "Chadian authorities repeatedly banned peaceful assemblies and arrested and prosecuted human rights defenders, activists and journalists, some of whom became prisoners of conscience. The right to freedom of association was violated with unlawful restrictions on the right to organize freely, including the criminalization of certain citizens’ associations."
Israeli media reported in November that Israel is also working to establish diplomatic ties with Sudan and Bahrain. Sudan and Chad are neighboring countries.
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