image Photo: Kobi Gideon (GPO)

Chad opens embassy in Israel

The move marks “part of Israel’s coming back to Africa and Africa coming back to Israel,” asserted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

By Erin Viner

Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno presided over the inauguration of the diplomatic compound in central Israel today.

Israel was among the first of world nations to recognize the Muslim-majority country after it gained independence from France. The Republic then joined 21 other African nations to sever ties with Israel in 1972 under Arab pressure, although de facto ties eventually resumed in 2016.

Diplomatic relations were fully re-established in 2019 during Netanyahu’s previous term in office with then-Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno, who was killed while commanding forces in a 2021 battle against anti-government rebels. He was succeeded by his son.

“Israel and Chad established relations between our two countries with your late father. It is in our view a tremendously important relationship with a major country in the heart of Africa. It is something that we want to carry to new levels, new heights, and your visit here in Israel and the opening of the embassy is a reflection of that,” Netanyahu told President Déby in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu, who has long set the expansion of Israel’s ties in Africa as a foreign policy goal, called the embassy opening “an historic moment” that will further strengthen “our friendship and our common interests in pursuing peace, security and prosperity.”

The holding of an expanded meeting included attendance on the Israeli side by Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, Mossad Director David Barnea, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Tzachi Braverman, National Security Council Director Tzachi Hanegbi, the Prime Minister’s Military Secretary Maj.-Gen. Avi Gil and Israel’s non-resident Ambassador to Chad Ben Bourgel. Attending for Chad are Foreign Minister Mahamat Saleh Annadif, Defense Minister Daoud Yaya Brahim, Head of the Presidential Cabinet Idriss Youssouf Boy and Director of the Secret Services Gen. Ahmed Kogri.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog also held a diplomatic work meeting with his Chadian counterpart, who was greeted in the Great Hall of the President’s Residence by with a special ceremony with a small honor guard, at which both nations’ anthems were performed by the IDF Orchestra.

“Relations between our countries are very important to us, and your visit is a historic visit. Our relationship, which has existed for many years, is based first and foremost on trust. We are especially excited that during your historic visit, you will open your embassy. We have discussed several issues, which we will elaborate on here, concerning the broad cooperation of the huge potential of our bilateral relationship,” said President Herzog, emphasizing, “We, the State of Israel, from the day of its establishment, have believed in relations with the states of Africa and have maintained political, economic, and diplomatic ties with many countries, and we want more countries. I pray for the day the potential of our relations will become tangible, for the benefit of Chad, Israel, and the peoples of the region.”

The Israeli leader went on to express belief “in the brave dialogue between the Jewish world and the world of Islam. I extend my hand in dialogue and I think you are a brave leader who is following in the footsteps of your brave father, and your courage, both yours and your father’s, will go down in history when it comes to the progress in relations between Israel and Muslim and African countries.”

President Déby responded by expressing “how happy I am to make this first visit in your great and beautiful country, the State of Israel: the cradle of civilization and monotheistic religions. I have been able to see how unique this place is, with what is happening here, and with its people. I want to thank you at this opportunity, Mr. President, for the warm reception and the warm treatment we have received from the moment we landed.”

Continuing, President Déby said, “I can already see, and I am happy to see, the quality of our cooperation. What characterize our relations are honesty and a common will to help advance this process, and we see this with every step.”

He also affirmed that “since the normalization of relations, Chad has consistently and stridently provided diplomatic and political support to the State of Israel, in all international forums, and wherever necessary. We make this choice fully understanding its results and completely conscious of its significance.”

Commending both Israel’s Mossad and the Chadian intelligence services for “their decisive contribution, as the architects who with their own hands built the relations between us,” President Déby lauded the “wonderful work in preparing this visit,” and encouraged them “to keep up their work in order to enable the strengthening of relations and more visits on both sides.”

Acknowledging his agency’s involvement, Mossad Director David Barnea said that “Since the decision to restore relations in 2019, the Mossad has played a central role in formulating the agreement and strengthening relations between the two countries. On instruction of the political leadership and in the context of efforts to advance normalization with the countries of the region, the Mossad – in full partnership with the diplomatic and security echelons – was responsible for the covert link with senior officials in the Republic and advanced significant steps, including reciprocal visits by delegations to Israel and Chad.”

After hosting the President and his delegation from N’Djamena at Mossad headquarters for a festive working meeting, Director Barnea thanked President Déby, saying, “The Republic of Chad is an additional important Islamic country in Africa with which the State of Israel is currently establishing diplomatic relations. Expanding the circle of diplomatic partnerships is an important goal in expanding Israel’s strategic depth.”

He added his hopes that “additional leaders in the Middle East and Africa will be inspired by this important agreement and will advance their relations with Israel. The Mossad will continue to take all possible action to advance ties with each country and element in which it is in the State of Israel’s interest to aspire to an agreement and peace with it.”

Israeli Defense Yoav Gallant met with President Déby for talks about discussed common security challenges, with a focus on counterterrorism efforts. The meeting at the Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMoD) HQ in Tel Aviv also included Chadian  Minister of Defense General Yaya Brahim Daoud, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mahamat Saleh Annadif, as well as Israel’s Ambassador to Chad, IMoD Director General, Chief of Staff to the Minister of Defense, Military Secretary to the Minister of Defense, Director of the Policy Bureau, and Director of the Defense Cooperation Directorate (SIBAT).

“I would like to congratulate the President of Chad for the important decision to open an Embassy in the State of Israel. The dialogue we held today, reflects the growing winds of change seen in the Abraham Accords and that are also blowing towards the African continent. I am confident that our developing ties will contribute to both nations and to the wider region,” said Jerusalem’s top defense official.

Minister Gallant also raised the importance of narrowing the influence of Iran and Hezbollah in the Sahel region, as a key to ensuring stability, and thwarting the export of terrorism.