Chadian President Idriss Deby paid a surprise official visit to Jerusalem, more than 46 years after his country severed diplomatic relations with the Jewish State. President Deby, who leads a pre-dominantly-Muslim African country that does not have official ties with Israel, held a joint press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last night, during which he voiced hope to turn over a new leaf in bilateral relations, while thanking the Israeli leader for his invitation, that made the visit possible. “Mr. Prime Minister, first I would like to voice my joy to be here in your beautiful country, in an official visit, which came as a response to your invitation,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The President of Chad further asserted the importance of cooperating in the global struggle against terrorism, a challenge President Chad asserted “humanity must simply get rid of.” “We have a common struggle, as you have already mentioned Mr. prime minister, against a thing which is a scourge of this century, and this is terrorism. Humanity must simply get rid of it, heal from it,” Chad President
While President Deby underscored the importance of his visit, which he dubbed as “historic”, the Chadian leader stressed that the resumption of bilateral relations between his country and Israel must coincide with a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. “The resumption of bilateral relations, which I am very keen to establish, will not make the Palestinian problem go away.” I myself had declared at the U.N. that my country aspires to see a peace process resume between Israel and the Palestinians. And we believe that this peace must fulfill U.N. security council resolutions, the Arab peace initiative, the Madrid principles, as well as bilateral arrangements between the two sides.” / “Humanity experienced many terrible moments, terrible tragedies, and dialogue is a foundation to everything, we must put aside all differences and conflict aside and to talk, to talk to realize peace, to assure the betterment of the peoples,” Netanyahu said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the visit as an imperative step for Israel’s aspiration, to normalize its relations with the Muslim and Arab world. “This is the first official visit by the President of Chad to the State of Israel. It follows a very long hiatus in our relations. Chad is a very important country. It’s an important country in Africa. It’s an important country for Israel. And I’m delighted that we are resuming our friendship. We never fully stopped our contacts as we spoke now, but we are now expanding them at a very rapid rate. And we wish to do so in all areas. First of all in fighting terrorism, which is a common goal of all countries,” Netanyahu said.
The historic visit by President Iriss Deby came just a couple of weeks after the Israeli leader travelled for the first time to Oman, a visit that established a foundation for additional visits of the Israeli leader to countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Jerusalem. According to an Israeli official, who spoke to TV7 on condition of anonymity, the Prime Minister’s office – in coordination with other Israeli entities – is working to promote ties with the Gulf state of Bahrain. According to the official, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to make a historic visit to Manama at an undisclosed time. While neither the Israeli, nor the Bahraini Foreign Ministries, were willing to comment on the revelation; a Bahraini source told TV7 that there is a growing understanding between the two countries, primarily within the top government ranks, on the importance of bilateral cooperation that could benefit both Jerusalem and Bahrain. The source refused, however, to comment on any anticipated visit that would publicly acknowledge the improving relations between the two countries behind the scenes.
Meanwhile, the Islamist Hamas organization, which controls the Gaza Strip, released a statement in response to the latest public rapprochement between Israel and the Muslim world. Hamas leader Sami Abu Zohri stressed in the statement that “receiving the Israeli leaders in Arab states” was a “stab in the back of the Palestinian people,” as these acts – according to Hamas – reflects the Muslim world’s preparedness to “make concessions on Jerusalem.” The leader of the internationally recognized terror group further called on the Muslim and Arab world to “sop all attempts to normalize relations with Israel,” that Hamas underscored “will always remain the arch-foe of the Arab and Islamic nations.”