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Chad opens embassy in Israel three years after restoring diplomatic relations

Chad cut ties with Israel in 1972 after pressure from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chad President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno dedicate the Chadian Embassy, Feb. 2, 2023 (Photo: Haim Zach/GPO)

The president of Chad arrived in Israel on Tuesday for meetings with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mossad director David Barnea prior to the opening of the Chad Embassy outside of Tel Aviv this morning.

Barnea received Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno and his delegation at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Tuesday night, as the Mossad intelligence agency played a central role in working towards Israel’s full normalization with Chad in recent years.

“We are full of hope that other leaders in the Middle East and in Africa will take inspiration from this important agreement and will advance their relations with Israel,” Barnea said.

Chad cut ties with Israel in 1972 after pressure from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. 

Netanyahu and Itno’s father, the late President Idriss Déby Etno, reestablished diplomatic ties in 2019, with both acknowledging at the time that the two countries had never cut informal relations.  

“The relations between our countries were cut in 1972 for specific historic reasons, but our special relations continued all the time,” the late Idriss Déby said in 2019.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu met with the Chadian president and told him how important ties with the central African country are to Israel.

“We see these relations as extremely important – with a great country at the heart of Africa,” Netanyahu said during the meeting. “These are relations that we want to upgrade to new levels, to new heights – and your visit here in Israel and the opening of the embassy are an expression of this.”

“We believe that our cooperation can help not only to advance our relations, but it is also part of Israel’s coming back to Africa and Africa coming back to Israel. We have common goals of security, prosperity and stability,” Netanyahu said.

“This is a country laden with history and this is the civilization of all the monotheistic faiths,” Déby told Netanyahu. “Chad and Israel are today at a decisive turning point in their relationship … renew(ing) ties after almost five decades.”

Déby also met with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who thanked him for Chad’s support among the nations, such as voting in favor of Israel joining the African Union as an observer state in 2021. 

Netanyahu has made pursuing closer ties with African countries a central part of his foreign policy, to gain their support in international organizations such as the United Nations, where Israel has few allies. In July 2016, Netanyahu became the first Israeli prime minister to go on an official state visit to Africa in decades, visiting Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

The Chadian delegation in Tel Aviv met with Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, with whom they discussed common security challenges and counterterrorism efforts. 

At the meeting, Gallant stressed the necessity of fighting the influence of Iran and the Hezbollah terror group in the Sahel region of North Africa.

Gallant said the opening of the Chadian embassy was yet more proof of a “winds of change” coming from the Abraham Accords and blowing towards the African continent.

“I would like to congratulate the president of Chad for the important decision to open an embassy in the State of Israel. The dialogue we held today reflects the growing winds of change seen in the Abraham Accords and that are also blowing towards the African continent. I am confident that our developing ties will contribute to both nations and to the wider region,” Gallant said.

Israel’s ambassador in Senegal and non-resident ambassador to Chad, Ben Bourgel, said the Chadian president was moved by his visit to the Jewish state. 

“He was moved by all [of] his visit, especially Yad Vashem, the Kotel, the Temple Mount,” Bourgel said.

Bourgel told The Times of Israel that Israel is looking to cooperate with Chad in all fields, “whether it is health, agriculture, education and economy.” 

Israel and Chad last year signed an agreement about cooperating on forestry and climate change. Israel also runs humanitarian programs in the African country, including a training program run by a team of doctors from MASHAV, the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s international development organization, that train medical professionals in emergency and trauma medicine.

The official opening of the embassy in Tel Aviv took place on Thursday morning with Netanyahu calling it a “historic moment.”

“We are strengthening our friendship and our common interests in pursuing peace, security and prosperity,” said Netanyahu, adding that, “We had excellent discussions yesterday. I welcome you and I hope to see you again in Chad.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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