Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set off on Sunday for Chad, where he is expected to renew diplomatic ties as part of his campaign to build relations with Arab and Muslim countries.
“This is part of the revolution that we are doing in the Arab and Islamic worlds,” Netanyahu said before departing. “There will be more major news. There will be more countries.”
The visit follows an unannounced trip by Chad’s President Idriss Deby to Israel in November. Chad had severed ties with Israel in 1972 — one of a string of African nations to do so after the 1967 Middle East war — and Deby was the first leader of his Muslim-majority African country to visit the Jewish state.
After Deby’s trip to Israel, Netanyahu’s office said the Israeli leader would fly to Chad to announce the renewal of diplomatic ties.
Shared concerns about Iran and Islamic terrorism have made Arab and Muslim countries more amenable to ties with Israel even before a peace agreement is reached with the Palestinians. In October Netanyahu paid a surprise visit to Oman, a Persian Gulf country with which Israel has no diplomatic ties.
Netanyahu alluded to the shifting alliances on Sunday, saying the warming of relations “is very disturbing and even causes outrage in Iran and among the Palestinians, who are trying to prevent this.”
Israel’s pivot toward Arab and Muslim states comes at a time when relations with European
allies have grown strained over Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians.