Yet another leader of a Muslim nation has visited Israel. On Sunday President Idriss Deby became the first Chadian leader to visit Israel, 46 years after the two sides severed ties.
A senior Israeli official told Channel 10 TV that the visit was laying the groundwork for normal ties between Tel Aviv and the Muslim-majority African states of Sudan, Mali and Niger.
After meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Chadian president pledged a new era of cooperation with “the prospect of reestablishing diplomatic relations.”
Israeli media cited sources in N’Djamena as saying that Deby’s visit was focused on “security,” and that the regime in Tel Aviv had already been supplying weapons and other military equipment to Chad.
During his visit, Deby said the future resumption of ties with Israel “does not make us ignore the Palestinian issue.”
The Palestinians, however, protested Deby’s trip to Israel.
Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, voiced displeasure over the visit.
“All countries and institutions must boycott the extremist government of Israel and impose a siege on it because of its settlement activities, its occupation of Palestinian land,” Youssef was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Over the past two years, Netanyahu has traveled to several African states in a bid to end decades of hostility against the occupying entity and convince them to stop voting against the Israeli regime at the United Nations in favour of Palestinians.
According to Channel 10, Israeli is now in talks with Sudan in a bid to improve relations with the African state.
Meanwhile, reports have emerged recently of Israel’s attempts to make its secret ties with Persian Gulf Arab governments public and establish formal relations with them.
On Sunday, Israeli news sites reported that Tel Aviv is working to normalise ties with Bahrain, hours after Netanyahu hinted he would soon travel to unspecified Arab states.
Israeli Economy Minister Eli Cohen said on Monday he had been invited to attend a conference next year in Bahrain.
Netanyahu met with Oman’s Sultan Qaboos in Muscat last month, but the controversial visit was kept secret until after the Israeli premier returned to Israel.
The visit to Muscat was the first by an Israeli prime minister since 1996.