JERUSALEM: Chadian President Mahamat Deby said he would inaugurate an embassy in Israel on Thursday that would build on bilateral relations that were established five years ago.
Deby announced the plan on Wednesday as he began a visit to Israel. An Israeli official said the Muslim-majority African country’s embassy would be in the Tel Aviv area.
“This is a country laden with history and this the land of civilisation, of all the monotheistic faiths,” Deby told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video statement.
“Chad and Israel are today at a decisive turning point in their relationship ... renew(ing) ties after almost five decades.” Long cool to Israel in protest at its occupation of Palestinian territory in a 1967 war, N’Djamena reversed course in 2018 when Deby’s father, the late Chadian President Idriss Deby, visited Jerusalem in 2018 and was hosted by Netanyahu.
Having returned to power last month, Netanyahu has vowed to expand the circle of Arab or Muslim countries that recognise Israel - even as he contends with a deepening and violent stalemate with the Palestinians.
Most countries keep their embassies in Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial metropolis. Israel deems Jerusalem as its capital, a status that has not won wide recognition abroad.
In the video, Netanyahu told Deby that Israel sees in Chad “a tremendously important relations with a major country in the heart of Africa. It is something that we want to carry to new levels, new heights”.
Chad’s strategic location amid African countries struggling with Islamist insurgencies makes it of special interest to Israel.
Signalling that the bilateral ties have covert aspects, Netanyahu’s office issued pictures showing the chief of the Israeli spy agency Mossad welcoming Deby at the airport.
The visit is the first to Israel for Deby, who took over after his father died in 2021.