Israel prepares for diplomatic relations with Muslim nation Chad

The Muslim-majority African state may soon reestablish diplomatic relations with Israel 46 years after breaking them off.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Chad and Israel have been quietly discussing the renewal of diplomatic relations for three months, according to a report Wednesday on Channel 10 News.

The ball started rolling in May, said the report, when Israel’s UNESCO ambassador, Carmel Shama-Hacohen received a visit from a Rabbi Avraham Moyal and a French-Jewish businessman, Philip Solomon. They told him that President Idriss Deby wanted to start talks on the diplomatic front, and the Foreign Ministry told Shama-Cohen to go ahead.

Perhaps indicating the seriousness with which the president is taking the issue, the report added that Deby would like to send his son in the near future as his personal emissary to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the possibilities.

This would not be the first time such an agreement was rumored to be imminent, with the Hebrew press relaying unconfirmed reports in 2005 that Chad was set to renew relations. Much more recently however, in June 2016, Netanyahu swung through four African states – Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Kenya – and emphasized the importance to his government of rejuvenating ties with other countries on the continent.

Just a few weeks later, the overwhelmingly Muslim, West African Republic of Guinea reestablished relations with Israel. In mid-July, then-Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold flew to Chad to meet Deby in his palace, which Israel considered “an important step in our relations with Chad,” as the Foreign Ministry spokesman said at the time.

Chad would naturally be interested in Israel’s technology and expertise in countering terrorism, as it shares a border with Libya, which is in a state of internal disarray due to infighting between factions that include radical Islamists. And over recent years, the fear of Arab displeasure over relations with Jerusalem has eroded with Israel’s quiet rapprochement with Sunni Muslim states who see Israel as a partner in their antipathy towards Iran.

It is these countries specifically that pressured Chad to break ties with the Jewish state in 1972 after a decade of good relations and cooperation. Israel had made tremendous inroads into Africa beginning in the late fifties, providing technological aid and know-how in agriculture and other fields. Following the Six Day War in 1967, most African nations cut their ties with Jerusalem, but Chad lasted another five years before doing so.