by: Ilse Strauss
Wednesday, 18 May 2022 | Fifty years after Chad severed relations with the Jewish state and the last Israeli ambassador left the central African nation, an Israeli envoy presented his credential to the president of Chad yesterday.
Ben Bourgel, Israel’s non-resident ambassador to Senegal, the Gambia, Cabo Verde, Guinea and Guinea–Bissau, added Chad to the list when he handed his credential letter to Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno in the capital N’Djamena.
“This marks an important benchmark in the deepening of the relations between Chad and Israel since their resumption in 2019,” the Israeli Embassy in Senegal tweeted. “Ambassador Bourgel and his team will work to strengthen the cooperation between the two countries in areas of common interest such as climate change, agriculture, water management and health.”
Israel recognized Chad after the African nation obtained independence from France in 1962. For the next decade or so, the two countries enjoyed thriving diplomatic relations, with Jerusalem opening a resident embassy in then capital Fort Lamy in 1962 and then President François Tombalbaye paying Israel an official visit in 1965.
All that changed in November 1972, when Chad bowed to pressure from Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and became the second of 22 African nations to sever ties with Israel.
After more than four decades of frosty, informal ties, the tide began to turn in 2016, as part of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s initiative to restore relations between Israel and several African nations.
In 2016, then-Director–General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry Dore Gold traveled to northern Chad to meet with then-President Idriss Déby (current President Déby’s father), and two years later in 2018, Déby traveled to Israel for an official visit. During his trip, Déby met with Netanyahu and then-President Reuven Rivlin, and both nations expressed their intentions to reinstate the ties that were severed in 1972.
The intention became reality in January 2019, when Netanyahu touched down in N’Djamena. Apart from restoring relations, Israel and Chad also signed a number of bilateral agreements. Netanyahu hailed the agreement as a historic moment for both countries.
Déby was killed last year in northern Chad by rebels, but his son, who replaced him, has chosen to follow in his father’s footsteps when it comes to cementing the relationship with Israel.
Posted on May 18, 2022
Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 18, 2022)
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