Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Wednesday in Jerusalem with Chadian President Mahamat Deby, ahead of inaugurating Chad’s first embassy in the country, to be located in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan.
Standing beside Deby, Netanyahu first addressed him in French, "Bienvenu a Jérusalem, Monsieur le Président" (welcome to Jerusalem, Mr President). Continuing in English, Netanyahu referenced Chad's late President Idriss Deby, Mahamat's father, who established relations with Israel in 2018.
"It is in our view a tremendously important relationship with a major country at the heart of Africa. It is something that we want to carry to new levels. New heights. Your visit here in Israel and the opening of the embassy are the reflection of that..it’s also part of Israel’s coming back to Africa and Africa coming back to Israel," Netanyahu said.
As with other sub-Sahara African countries, bilateral relations between Israel and Chad were severed in 1972 following the 1967 Six Day War and pressure by then-Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi. The two countries resumed ties in 2018 following a visit to Israel by then-President Idriss Deby. A year later, Netanyahu visited the capital N’Djamena. Deby passed away in 2021, with his son replacing him. Israeli Ambassador Ben Bourgel presented his credentials to Mahamat Deby last May, pledging to advance cooperation in different fields. Israel has not opened an embassy in N’Djamena and Bourgel serves as ambassador both to Chad and Senegal, where he is located.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen revealed at his meeting with Deby on Wednesday that Israel had offered significant assistance to Chad during the last year through its branch responsible for international cooperation. A delegation of Israeli doctors is currently in Chad to train local physicians and health staff on emergency medicine. Cohen also thanked Chad for its support last year for Israel’s candidacy as an observer state in the African Union.
Chad, a majority Muslim country with a population of 18 million, is seeking cooperation on public health, smart agriculture, forestry and water management as well as in the security and intelligence domains with Israel.
"The reinforcement of cooperation is a strategic necessity for my people," Deby said.
Upon his arrival to Israel Tuesday night, Deby met with Mossad chief David Barnea, who welcomed Deby at the airport and then hosted him and the Chadian delegation for a "festive working meeting," according to the Mossad’s statement, at the Mossad headquarters. The statement also read that the Mossad had played a central role in reaching the normalization agreement between the two countries. Together with other Israeli diplomatic and security elements, the Mossad headed the establishment of secret relations with senior officials in Chad, leading to mutual visits by senior delegations.