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Palestinians urge Chad to reconsider relations with Israel following Netanyahu visit

“A stab in the back of the Palestinian people and their just cause.” This is how Palestinians are describing Chadian President Idriss Deby hosting Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Sunday.

Netanyahu’s 7-hour visit to N’Djamena comes less than 3 months after Deby visited Jerusalem, and signals a resumption of diplomatic ties between Chad and Israel, after the central African country cut ties with Tel Aviv in 1972. The visit was focused on the arms trade, and Israel will supply Chad’s army with weapons and equipment to help fight rebels.

Palestinians, however, are urging Deby to re-consider his decision to normalise relations with Israel.

“All countries and institutions must boycott the extremist government of Israel because of its occupation of Palestinian land,” senior Palestinian official, Wasel Abu Youssef, said on Monday.

Hamas official, Esam al- Da’alis also called on the Chad leader to “isolate the Israeli occupation, and continue supporting the Palestinian people’s freedom struggle against the occupation.”

Deby, however, insists that a renewal of ties with Israel does not mean that he has abandoned the Palestinian cause. “Of course, the renewal of diplomatic ties between us is not something that can make the Palestinian issue disappear,” he said during his November visit to Jerusalem.

Netanyahu’s visit to Chad is part of Israel’s attempt to undermine Africa’s solidarity and support of the Palestinian liberation struggle. Netanyahu has visited the continent several times in recent years.  The aim is to “dissolve” the pro-Palestine bloc of African countries critical of Israeli policies at the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU) and other international fora.

Guinea, Mali, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Tunisia serve on the UN’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP). Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, and the AU are observers. Senegal chairs the CEIRPP.

Apart from UN votes, Netanyahu is also seeking African partners to lobby the AU to grant Israel observer status at the continental union. Israel believes that gaining AU observer status will enhance its relationship with African states and allow it to influence their voting at the UN.

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