Embassy idea also discussed as PM meets Chad delegation

Chad willing to open diplomatic mission in Jerusalem, Israel says

Intelligence Ministry makes announcement after meeting between Chadian president’s son and Intelligence Minister Cohen

Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen (L) and Chad’s cabinet chairman Abdelkarim Déby during a meeting in Jerusalem, September 8, 2020. (Intelligence Ministry)
Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen (L) and Chad’s cabinet chairman Abdelkarim Déby during a meeting in Jerusalem, September 8, 2020. (Intelligence Ministry)

A senior official from Chad told Israel on Tuesday that the country was willing to open an official diplomatic mission in Jerusalem.

Chad’s cabinet chairman, Abdelkerim Déby, who is also its president’s son, visited Israel for a series of meetings, including with Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen.

A statement from the Intelligence Ministry said Déby expressed “willingness to open an official mission in Jerusalem.”

“At the request of Minister Cohen, General Déby responded positively to advancing the establishment of an official representative office of Chad in Jerusalem,” the statement said.

Cohen wrote on Twitter that he had held an “important meeting” with Déby and the director of Chad’s national security agency, but made no mention of a mission in Jerusalem, only saying that “additional news will be published later.”

Cohen said that the two sides discussed “cooperation in intelligence, security and economics.”

“Tightening relations between Israel and Chad is in the shared interest of the two countries, both in terms of security and economics,” Cohen said.

There was no immediate confirmation from Chadian officials.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the premier met on Tuesday with the younger Déby and the head of Chad’s intelligence services.

The two sides “discussed the appointment of ambassadors and the opening of missions, including the possibility of opening an embassy in Jerusalem,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Abdelkerim Déby, Chad’s cabinet chairman and its president’s son, in Jerusalem on September 8, 2020. (Kobe Gideon/GPO)

The Chadian delegation also met with National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat and other Israeli officials, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said he had no knowledge of the possible opening of the embassy. However, the visit had been organized by the National Security Council, not the Foreign Ministry.

Netanyahu met with the Chadian president in January 2019 on a visit to the capital of N’Djamena, during which the two countries agreed to renew ties, which Chad severed in 1972 due to pressure from Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

Netanyahu at the time hailed the visit, the first-ever of an Israeli premier to Chad, as “a breakthrough in the heart of the Muslim world.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) is greeted by Chadian President Idriss Deby at the presidential palace in N’Djamena, January 20, 2019. (Koby Gideon/GPO)

Some 15 million people live in Chad, 52 percent of them Muslim. About 43% are Christian.

Tuesday’s development comes after several diplomatic breakthroughs for Israel.

On Friday, Serbia announced it would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and Muslim-majority Kosovo said it will recognize Israel and open an embassy in Jerusalem. The moves came as part of US-brokered discussions to normalize economic ties between Belgrade and Pristina.

The announcement on Israel and the two Balkan nations came after the Trump administration brokered a historic deal for Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize relations.

The deal was followed by the first commercial flight between Israel and the UAE, with neighboring Saudi Arabia and Bahrain deciding to allow such flights to pass through their airspace.

Additional Arab states, including Sudan, Bahrain and Oman, have been identified as countries that may soon also normalize relations with Israel.

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