Israel has for some time been trying to expand its influence across the African continent. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to Chad is being viewed as a step in this direction. The two sides have now announced the normalization of their diplomatic ties amid reports of Israel supplying the Central African state with weapons.
Netanyahu, and Chadian President Idriss Deby have “announced the renewal of diplomatic relations between Chad and Israel,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said Sunday.
Relations between Tel Aviv and the Muslim-majority country were cut in 1972.
Speaking at a joint press conference in N’Djamena on Sunday, Deby told Netanyahu that the purpose of the visit was to bring the two sides closer and to cooperate.
For his part, Netanyahu said that Israel was announcing “a renewal of diplomatic ties with Chad and making a breakthrough for the Arab and Muslim world.”
He said the restoration of diplomatic ties was “a result of strenuous work of recent years.”
Deby, who won a disputed fifth term in April 2016, visited the occupied Palestinian territories and met with Netanyahu in November, becoming the first Chadian leader to visit Israel, 47 years after the two sides severed ties.
Back then, Israeli media cited sources in N’Djamena as saying that Deby’s visit was focused on “security” and that Tel Aviv had already been supplying weapons and other military equipment to Chad.
Over the past two years, Netanyahu has been seeking to secure a foothold in Africa. He has traveled to several African states in a bid to convince them to stop voting against the Israeli regime at the United Nations in favor of Palestinians.
Israel is also said to be seeking to take advantage of insurgency and Takfiri militancy gripping parts of Africa to sell advanced military equipment to conflict-ridden states in the continent.
Tel Aviv and the Persian Gulf Arab governments have also taken further steps towards normalization.
Only two Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, have open diplomatic relations with Israel. Tel Aviv has recently stepped up its push to make clandestine ties with other Arab governments public and establish formal relations with them.