Analysis: Israel-Chad bond a catalyst for Arab nations to consider normalization

February 01, 2023

By Batya Levinthal

'The materialization of this resumption of ties shows neighboring countries that [normalization] is possible and can be mutually beneficial'

As diplomatic relations between Israel and Chad continue to materialize, such a warming of ties could potentially act as a catalyst for other Arab states to join in the trend of normalization.

While Chad was not a part of the landmark Abraham Accords which saw a handful of Arab nations normalize ties with Israel in 2020, the central African state has followed a parallel course in recent years.

In January 2019, Israel and Chad announced the renewal of diplomatic relations, and in May of last year, Jerusalem’s non-resident ambassador to numerous African countries, Ben Bourgel, presented his credentials to Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno. Most recently, on Wednesday, Deby met with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, after which the two announced the opening of the central African nation’s embassy in Israel.

“This is a very important day for Israel and Chad, but also a very strong signal sent to all the nations that are still considering the possibility of relations with Israel,” Bourgel told i24NEWS.

“With Chad, this is a convergence of interests and principles. Since the resumption of relations in 2019, we’ve been working very hard to… find issues and challenges important to both sides, such as climate change, health, and education. That has been the driver of this relationship.”

Netanyahu has used this relationship with Chad as a catalyst to spearhead many ties that have since been formed with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco.

But while relations with Chad and the opening of an embassy are achievements in their own right, it should be noted that Israel has for many years had good relations with Africa. When the two countries restored diplomatic ties four years ago, Chad became the 41st out of 45 sub-Saharan African states to do so, following the breaking of ties by many regional countries following the 1967 Six-Day and 1973 Yom Kippur wars.

Since then, Jerusalem has not only provided medical assistance and forged economic trade ties with Chad, but the two have also entered into the field of security, which has highlighted on Wednesday when David Barnea, director of the Mossad spy agency, welcomed Deby upon his arrival to Israel.

Asked if the remaining African countries that don’t have diplomatic ties with Israel were considering a change in policy, Bourgel noted that Deby’s presence in Israel was “conducive for creating the conditions necessary” for such a reality to transpire.

This strengthening bond could potentially be a motivation for other nations, yet not predominantly in Africa and more so in the Middle East and Arab Gulf, to begin the process of normalization with Israel.

“The materialization of this resumption of ties is a very important benchmark and sends an important signal. It shows neighboring countries that (normalization) is possible and can be mutually beneficial for all parties involved,” Bourgel urged.

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