Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his country has renewed its ties with Chad during a trip to the central African country.
“We renew the diplomatic relations between the countries!” Netanyahu posted on Twitter on Sunday during his trip, which he earlier hailed as a “historic and important breakthrough”.
Chad, a Muslim-majority country, borders Libya and Sudan.
Chad’s President Idriss Deby visited Jerusalem in November, the first by a leader of the Central African country. The country broke its relations with Israel in 1972.
Netanyahu has pushed to extend Israeli diplomacy to Africa and has visited the continent several times in recent years.
חתמתי עם נשיא צ׳אד: אנחנו מחדשים את היחסים הדיפלומטיים בין המדינות! pic.twitter.com/Y3PIMdSBOg
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) January 20, 2019
It’s part of Israel’s policy of seeking allies among developing countries that have historically sided with the Palestinians at the United Nations and other international forums.
Netanyahu said his outreach “causes outrage in Iran and among the Palestinians”.
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 in 2017.
Israel maintains diplomatic ties with 32 of the continent’s 54 countries.
Deby said his November 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 Jerusalem.
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.