Israel and Chad renew diplomatic ties as Netanyahu visits
N'DJAMENA, Chad (2nd UPDATE) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the majority-Muslim nation of Chad Sunday, January 20 for what he called a "historic" trip, as the two countries restored diplomatic ties after a decades-long break.
The Israeli leader said it was the start of a push to restore his country's standing in the Islamic world.
Netanyahu and Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno have "announced the renewal of diplomatic relations between Chad and Israel,” a statement from the Israeli premier's office said, shortly after he arrived in N'djamena.
Netanyahu on Twitter called the announcement "a historic moment.”
Ties between Israel and Chad were broken in 1972 at the height of Arab-Israeli tensions.
Pressure from Muslim African nations, accentuated by the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973, led a number of African states to sever relations with the Jewish state.
But in recent years, Israel has held out the prospect of cooperation in fields ranging from security to technology to agriculture, to improve ties on the continent.
"Israel is making inroads into the Islamic world. This is the result of considerable effort in recent years," Netanhyahu's office said.
"We are making history and we are turning Israel into a rising global power."
Netanyahu's one-day visit follows Deby's November trip to Israel.
Netanyahu is seeking re-election in April 9 polls. He also risks being indicted in corruption investigations in the coming weeks.
In comments to journalists after his meeting with Deby, Netanyahu said this was his 4th visit to Africa in the past two years.
Deby said that despite the renewal of ties with Israel, "Chad remains attached to the peace process between Israel and Palestine."
Both sides should prioritize dialogue and negotiation towards a lasting peace "in conformity with United Nations resolutions,” he added.
The two leaders signed defense and security cooperation agreements Sunday, but no details were released to the media.
They have in the past declined to comment on whether their talks have included arms deals.
But Chadian security sources say the country has acquired Israeli equipment to help battle rebels in the country's north.
Chad is also one of several African states engaged in Western-backed operations against Boko Haram and Islamic State group jihadists.
It forms part of the G5 force fighting jihadist fighters in the Sahel region, along with Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso.
Deby is one of Africa's longest-serving leaders.
He took over the arid, impoverished nation in 1990 and won a disputed fifth term in April 2016 to lead the country of some 15 million people. – Rappler.com