It seems the efforts by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to seek allies in Africa have started to pay off, thanks to the visit by Chadian president, Idris Deby.
Deby becomes the first Chadian leader to visit Israel since 1972 when the country severed ties with the latter. Chad was among the African countries that cut off links with Israel over solidarity with Palestine and alleged pressure from Libya’s Muammar Gadaffi.
Although there have been no formal diplomatic relations between the two nations, Chad has been getting arms from Israel, according to reports from the 1980s.
The visit, termed ‘historic’ by both leaders, focused on security issues especially in connection to the rebels in the North African country.
“Chad is a very important country. It’s an important country in Africa. It’s an important country for Israel. And I’m delighted that we are resuming our friendship. President Déby and I had the opportunity to discuss the relations between our two countries and the way we can cooperate for the benefit of our peoples and for peace and for security,” Netanyahu said.
Deby, who stated was looking forward to renewing relations with Israel, brought up the peace process between Israel and Palestine, saying that Chad was “deeply attached to the peace process” between the two countries.
“Of course, the renewal of diplomatic ties between us, which I very much want, is not something that can make the Palestinian issue disappear,” Deby said.
With this meeting, Netanyahu hopes to attract more Arab countries to restore ties with Israel and together with his efforts in Asia and Latin America, blunt the influence Palestine has at various international bodies including the United Nations.
The Israeli premier has been working hard to get an observer status in the African Union, saying that it would help attract Israeli investment to Africa.
Deby’s visit comes at a time when asylum seekers of African descent are being kicked out of Israel. A new law, passed in August 2018, allows the withholding of 20 per cent of salaries of African asylum seekers until when they leave the country. This adds to the many policies and regulations that discriminate against Africans in the country.
Deby’s move to re-establish ties with Israel has drawn criticism from the opposition in the country, which he has ruled since 1990. It is notable that the country’s national broadcaster did not announce the visit.