Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno on Thursday morning on a visit to Tel Aviv to officially open the African country’s embassy in Israel, a move both leaders described as “historic”.
In 2019, during Netanyahu’s previous tenure, he and late President Idriss Deby Itno, father of the current President, announced the resumption of diplomatic relations. Chad broke ties with Israel in 1972 under pressure from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Deby the Elder, who ruled the Muslim-majority country for more than three decades, is killed on the battlefield fighting rebels in 2021. His son succeeded him as president at the head of a military council.
“This is a historic moment. It follows the steps we took with your late father, my historic visit to Chad, and your historic visit to Israel now, in which we are formally opening the embassy today,” said Netanyahu.
“We are strengthening our common interests and friendship, and pursuing peace, security and prosperity,” he added. “I welcome you in great friendship and I hope to see you again in Chad.”
Deby also paid tribute to his father and Netanyahu;
“We are here today to officially open the embassy. By the grace of God and the courage and vision that [my father] had and thank you too Prime Minister,” he said. He then issued an official invitation to Netanyahu to visit his country.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu held a series of meetings with Mahamat Deby, during which he outlined his plans for the relationship.
“We see these relations as very important – with a great country in the heart of Africa,” Netanyahu said. “These are the relationships we want to take to new levels, to new heights.”
This phase took place as Israel and Sudan were preparing to announce normalization of relations.
After landing in Israel on Tuesday evening, Deby was picked up at the airport by Mossad boss David Parnea. Then the Chadian delegation went to a solemn meeting at the Mossad headquarters in Jlilot.
Mossad played a central role in maintaining smooth relations with Chad after 1972 and working towards full normalization in recent years.
Debbie also visited the Western Wall and Temple Mount on a rainy Wednesday night.
Ben Burgel, Israel’s ambassador to Senegal, who is also non-resident ambassador to several African countries including Gambia and Guinea, presented Deby with his credentials last year.
Burgel told the Times of Israel on Wednesday that the State Department is trying to work with Chad wherever it can add value, “be it health, agriculture, education, business.”