Netanyahu to formally establish ties with Chad in upcoming visit

Announcement came after Deby met Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday in landmark visit after Chad severed ties in 1972.

    The Israeli government has been investing in outreach to Africa [File: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters]
    The Israeli government has been investing in outreach to Africa [File: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters]

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit Chad in the near future to formally establish diplomatic relations between the two countries, his office has said.

    The announcement came hours after Netanyahu met Chad President Idriss Deby in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

    "The two discussed shared threats and the struggle against terrorism, increased cooperation between the nations in the areas of agriculture, counter terrorism, border security, technology, solar energy, water, health and more," the statement said.

    Deby had arrived in Israel on Sunday for the first official visit by a leader of the Central African country that severed diplomatic ties with Israel in 1972.

    "We discussed ... the great changes that are taking place in the Arab world in its relations with Israel," Netanyahu said, adding there will be more visits to Arab countries soon.

    Netanyahu previously pledged to strengthen ties with the continent and described his pledge as a "priority" at a regional security conference he attended in Liberia last year.

    WATCH: Can Israel's Prime Minister save his right-wing coalition? (24:40)

    His government has been investing in outreach to Africa, where some countries previously warm to Israel have severed ties since its occupation of the Palestinian territories. Israel maintains diplomatic ties with 32 of the continent's 54 countries.

    Deby said his visit was "historic" for both countries and that it "could facilitate the turning of a new page in relations between us" but added that even with a renewal of ties, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could not be ignored.

    "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 in French through a translator.

    WATCH: Illegal trade and smuggling continues at Sudan-Chad border (2:17)

    Unofficial contacts between Israel and Chad have been ongoing for an extended period, Deby said. One source told Reuters news agency the visit is focused on security, adding that Israel has supplied Chad's army with weapons and equipment this year to help fight rebels.

    Chad is one of several states engaged in Western-backed operations against the Boko Haram armed group and fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.

    Wasel Abu Youssef, a senior Palestinian official, voiced displeasure over Deby's visit.

    "All countries and institutions must boycott the extremist government of Israel and impose a siege on it because of its settlement activities, its occupation of Palestinian land," Youssef said.

    Deby, one of Africa's longest-serving leaders, took over the arid, impoverished nation in 1990 and won a disputed fifth term in April 2016. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies