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Israel's African charm offensive reaches Chad after long-standing estrangement Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Israel's African charm offensive reaches Chad after long-standing estrangement

Many sub-Saharan countries severed ties with Israel during the Arab-Israeli wars [Twitter]

Date of publication: 22 July, 2016

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Foreign ministry director Dore Gold has met with Chad's President Idriss Deby to discuss strengthening relations, in first such visit since the 1970s, as Israel moves to woo African nations.

A top Israeli official travelled to Chad earlier this month for talks on bolstering ties, the first such visit since ties were severed in 1972.

Foreign ministry director Dore Gold met President Idriss Deby at his palace in the northern Chad on July 14, as Israel is pressing a campaign to improve ties with Africa, the Israeli foreign ministry said on Friday.

"Chad is a central country on the African continent," a ministry statement read.

"It is a Muslim, Arabic-speaking country that deals with radical Islamic terrorism and this year holds the rotating chairmanship of the African Union."

The announcement came two days after Israel renewed diplomatic relations with Muslim-majority Guinea after a 49-year break and close on the heels of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's four-nation Africa tour.

It was the first such high-level meeting since 1972, when Chad severed relations with Israel.

The Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973 pitted many North African nations against Israel, while many sub-Saharan states also cut ties with the Jewish state

Netanyahu made a "historic" visit to the African nations of Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda earlier this month, the first such trip in decades.

     
      Netanyahu made a "historic" visit to Africa this month [Getty]

In the wake of the visit, continental heavyweight Ethiopia backed Israel to be granted "observer status" at the African Union [AU].

The position of observer is granted to some non-African countries that wish to engage with the AU, follow proceedings and address its gatherings.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has used his country's AU observer status since 2013 to attend AU summits, deliver addresses and shore up diplomatic support in the long-running conflict with Israel.

The Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973 pitted many North African nations against Israel, while many sub-Saharan states also cut ties with the Jewish state.

Last month, Turkey and Israel agreed on a deal to normalise their troubled relations, six years after Israel attacked a Turkish boat bound for Gaza as part of an aid flotilla in international waters, killing Turkish citizens.

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