Diplomacy

Israel, Chad Renew Diplomatic Relations, Mali Could be Next

Israel and the Muslim-majority country Chad renewed diplomatic ties on Sunday in what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as “a partnership… to forge a prosperous and secure future for our countries,” the BBC reported.

Netanyahu’s visit to the central African country reciprocated President Idriss Deby’s trip to Israel this past November, the first by a Chadian leader. Ties between Israel and Chad were severed in 1972 following pressure on the country from its northern neighbor, Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.

Deby told Netanyahu at a joint press conference in the capital N’Djamena: “The purpose of your visit is to bring our two countries closer and to cooperate.” Chad is specifically interested to collaborate with Israel in the fields of security, intelligence and technology. The African nation also hopes that Israel can help strengthen ties with the United States.

Netanyahu hailed the reestablishment of diplomatic relations as “an important breakthrough” with “a huge Muslim country that borders Libya and Sudan.” He added: “This is very disturbing – even infuriating – for Iran and the Palestinians. They tried to prevent it. They failed.”

In 2016, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in order to “restrain Israeli movements” in the African continent.

The Israeli prime minister predicted “there will be more” Muslim-majority countries with which Israel will establish ties but declined to specify which.

JNS reported Monday that Israel is preparing for a historic visit by Mali Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga, who is expected to arrive in the Jewish State in the coming weeks. Mali cut ties with Israel following the Yom Kippur War in 1973 when many African nations sided with the Arab world.

Netanyahu met with Malian President Ibrahim Keita in 2017  on the sidelines of a summit with West African leaders in Liberia, where the two leaders agreed to seek “warm relations” between the two countries, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s office.

In an unprecedented development, Netanyahu’s plane on his journey back from Chad flew through airspace controlled by Muslim-majority Sudan, with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations. The authorization is seen as significant both to Israel’s growing rapprochement with the Islamic world and to efforts to shorten flying times to South America.

The Israeli prime minister told diplomats in Jerusalem in December that, “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.”

In a related event, a major attack by a jihadist organization killed 10 U.N. peacekeepers from Chad in Mali on Sunday. The Al-Qaeda-linked group, Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, said the terrorist attack was a response to Chad’s renewed diplomatic relations with Israel.

[Photo: IsraeliPM / YouTube ]