Diplomacy

Netanyahu to Travel to Muslim-Majority Chad, His Fourth Africa Trip as PM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to the Muslim-majority country Chad on Saturday night for a groundbreaking first-ever visit to the Central African state by an Israeli premier, The Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.

Netanyahu will meet with Chadian President Idriss Déby, who first visited Israel during a historic trip in November.

Although the prime minister’s office has not released further details on the trip, sources say Netanyahu and Déby might announce the renewal of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Back in November, the prime minister’s office said that Netanyahu will fly to N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, to announce the recommencement of diplomatic relations, nearly half a century after the African nation cut ties with Israel in 1972.

“This is another diplomatic breakthrough,” Netanyahu said during Déby’s visit. “This is a historic and important visit that comes against the background of efforts that we have led.” The Prime minister added that the visited reflects “the risings status of Israel among the nations.”

In his meeting with Netanyahu, the Chadian leader said that he was interested in renewed diplomatic relations with Israel and stressed that “all options are open” for cooperation with the Jewish State. The two leaders discussed common security threats, such as the fight against terrorism and Islamic extremism.

During a vote on a U.S.-sponsored resolution condemning Hamas in the United Nations General Assembly in December, Chad did not vote, when in the past the country may have been expected to support the Palestinians at the UN.

Netanyahu became the first Israeli prime minister in July 2016 to visit Africa in more than three decades, when he visited Kenya, Uganda Ethiopia, and Rwanda.

As part of Israel’s drive to improve ties with Muslim-majority states in the region, Netanyahu announced in December that Israeli airliners have been given permission to fly over Sudan and Chad.

“At this time, we can overfly Egypt. We can overfly Chad, that has already been set. And to all appearances, we can also overfly this corner of Sudan,” Netanyahu told Israeli diplomats in Jerusalem, pointing at a map.

Netanyahu’s trip to Chad will mark his fourth visit to Africa.

[Photo: IsraeliPM / YouTube ]