Historic visit: Netanyahu lands in Chad to restore diplomatic relations

Netanyahu landed in the north-central African country of Chad to restore diplomatic ties between the two countries. 

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in Chad on Sunday morning to restore diplomatic ties between the two countries. It is the first visit to the north-central African country by an Israeli prime minister.

At the ceremony officially renewing the relationship, Netanyahu said that ” Israel is making inroads into the Islamic world. This is the result of considerable effort in recent years. We are making history and we are turning Israel into a rising global power.”

Before his departure, the prime minister said at Ben Gurion International Airport: “I am now leaving on another historic and important breakthrough, to Chad, a huge Muslim country bordering Libya and Sudan.  This is part of the revolution that we are doing in the Arab and Islamic worlds; I promised you that this would happen. There will be more major news. There will be more countries,” Netanyahu said.

Israel maintains diplomatic relations with 32 of Africa’s 54 countries.

“Iranians and Palestinians are upset about the trip but were unable to stop it,” the prime minister added.

In November, Chad’s President Idriss Deby visited Jerusalem.

Deby said he hoped his visit “could facilitate the turning of a new page in relations between us.” The trip followed a long period of unofficial contacts between the two countries.

Ties between the two countries broke off in in 1972. According to Reuters, Chadian hosts told then-director of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Dore Gold, who visited in July 2016, that “they had cut off ties 44 years prior under Libyan pressure.” That pressure disappeared with with the fall of Moammar Gaddafi in 2011

Israel has supplied Chad this year with weapons and equipment to help fight Boko Haram, Reuters reports. Boko Haram is a radical Islamist terror group aligned with ISIS.

In December, Netanyahu announced that Chad would permit El Al, Israel’s national airline, to fly over its airspace.

Netanyahu has made building relations with African countries a priority. In September, Netanyahu proposed a “friendship and partnership,” in an address to more than 15 heads of state and representatives of African nations at the U.N. He said Israel’s technology would be a tremendous asset to the African continent.

The prime minister has also made a push to establish ties with Muslim states in the Middle East. In October, he made a surprise visit to Oman. Bahrain has also made signals indicating warming relations.