With encouragement from the African nation’s leadership, the warming of formal relations with Israel has already filtered down to benefit Chadians – in July, three children from the country arrived in Israel for lifesaving heart operations.
When Israel’s non-resident ambassador to the Republic of Chad, Ben Bourgel, presented his credentials to President Mahamat Idriss Déby in May, the biggest surprise was that it all felt very normal.
“When I went to present my letter of credence, the presidency did exactly the same for me as it would do for any ambassador presenting his credentials,” Bourgal, who is resident ambassador to Senegal and, as well as Chad, non-resident to the Gambia, Cape Verde, Guinea and Guinea Bissau, told Jewish Insider in an interview.
“They published it in exactly the same way as any other ambassador and explained it would be beneficial for everyone,” he continued, adding, “it all seemed to be totally normal, and it was that normalcy that was so striking for me.”
The meeting, Bourgel explained, marked “a new era” for Israel and the landlocked central African nation, after 50 years of no formal diplomatic relations. In 1972, facing pressure from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Chad severed ties with Israel.
Bordering Libya as well as Sudan, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Niger, and with a population of some 16 million, Bourgel told JI that Chad was a “very important partner” for Israel.
“It’s a key to stability and security in the region and that’s the way it is perceived by all international partners based there. Europe, the U.S. — they all see Chad as a constructive partner,” said Bourgel, who previously served as the political coordinator of Israel’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.
On Monday, the Chadian transitional authorities signed a peace pact with some 30 rebel and opposition factions in Doha, Qatar. The peace agreement, which drew praise from the Biden administration, could pave the way to elections in the central African country after years of turmoil and unrest.
For Israel, warming ties with one of the African continent’s largest countries is part of a two-fold strategy, explained Bourgel. “First, we are widening the circle of peace,” said the envoy, explaining that the creation of such relations had an impact on other nearby countries. “The second is Israel’s efforts to go back to Africa, which was initiated a few years ago.”
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