(January 20, 2019 / JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a historic visit to the central African nation of Chad on Sunday, where he announced the re-establishment of ties.
“Chad is a very important country and very important for Israel,” said Netanyahu during a joint appearance with Chadian President Idriss Déby at the presidential palace in N’Djamena. “There is a lot that we can do together. We discussed ways to deepen our cooperation in every field, beginning with security, but also agriculture, food, water, energy, health and many more.”
Déby, who spoke before Netanyahu, welcomed Israel’s investment in his country’s future.
“Chad will do everything it can to strengthen the ties between the two countries and the bilateral cooperation in various matters,” he said.
In November, Déby became his country’s first leader to make an official visit to Israel. During this visit, he announced that he would renew bilateral ties with Israel, which were severed in 1972.
Also during his visit, Déby said his country, an Arab League member, could assist in helping Israel renew diplomatic ties with Sudan.
A landlocked nation located in central Africa, the former French colony is around 55 percent Muslim and 40 percent Christian with a long history of co-existence between its dominant faiths. Split both culturally and geographically between the Sahara to the north and a tropical savannah to the south, the country faces numerous challenges as one of the world’s poorest nations.
“We believe in the future of Chad and the future of Africa. This is my fourth visit to Africa in four years. I think it says something, and indeed, we are committed to making every effort to help alongside with the United States with the program Power Africa to help light up African countries,” said Netanyahu.
The renewal of ties with Chad are part of a larger effort by Netanyahu to forge closer relations with non-traditional allies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Netanyahu sees this not only as an opportunity for Israel to assist these countries with humanitarian needs and economic development, but also for Israel to gain support in international bodies like the United Nations, which have traditionally been hostile to the Jewish state.
Before taking off for Chad, Netanyahu said the half-day visit was “another historic and important breakthrough” that is part of a “revolution that we are doing in the Arab and Islamic worlds.”
He also hinted that more Muslim countries in Africa were likely to follow suit.
“There will be more major news,” said the Israeli prime minister. “There will be more countries.”