Netanyahu to Visit Chad to Formally Reestablish Diplomatic Ties

Announcement follows historic visit by Chad President Idriss Deby to Israel, the first since diplomatic ties were severed in 1972

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit Chad soon to formally reestablish diplomatic ties between the two states, the Prime Minister's Bureau announced Tuesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chad President Idriss Deby in Jerusalem, November 27, 2018.
Amos Ben Gershom / GPO

The announcement comes after Netanyahu met Chad President Idriss Deby on Tuesday in Jerusalem prior to his departure from Israel.

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"The two discussed shared threats and the struggle against terrorism, increased cooperation between the nations in the areas of agriculture, counter terrorism, border security, technology, solar energy, water, health and more," according to the statement.

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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 does not entail a formal renewal of relations and comes amid heavy diplomatic efforts led by Netanyahu.

Relations between the two countries were severed in 1972. However, coordination between Israel and Chad in the defense arena never truly ceased. In the 1980s, foreign reports said that Israel was supplying weapons to then-Chadian dictator Hissène Habré, who was sentenced in 2016 to life in prison for crimes against humanity. Israel reportedly also sold weapons to Deby during Chad's civil war in 2005-2010.

Having just taken a major step toward reestablishing relations with Chad, Israel is now working to establish diplomatic ties with Sudan and Bahrain.

In 2009, an international arrest warrant was issued against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Sudan’s Darfur region, where Sudanese forces slaughtered hundreds of thousands of African tribesmen.

If ties with Sudan are reestablished, a possibility first reported by Israel Television News, this might shorten flight times from Israel to Brazil.

Two years ago, after Sudan severed its relationship with Iran, Haaretz reported that Israel had urged the United States and other countries to improve their relationship with the Arab African country in response. The Foreign Ministry’s assessment at the time was that Sudan severed its ties with Iran in 2015 because arms smuggling via Sudan to the Gaza Strip had halted and the Sudanese were drawing closer to the Sunni Arab bloc headed by Saudi Arabia.

Palestinian Authority officials are seeking emergency sessions of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation over Israel's increasingly close ties with some Arab countries and what is seen as the normalization of relations with Israel.

"What we have been seeing in recent weeks – beginning with Netanyahu's visit to Oman and the visit to Israel by the president of Chad, and now there is talk of Bahrain and Sudan and ties of one kind or another with Saudi Arabia – raises question marks, and there is therefore a need to clarify the Arab and Islamic position," former Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Sha'ath, an adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas, told Haaretz.