Israel expressed regrets and surprise today over the announcement by the African Republic of Chad that it was severing diplomatic relations with Israel. While the break was anticipated–Foreign Minister Abba Eban briefed the Cabinet on its possibility Sunday–a Foreign Ministry spokesman said today that there was nothing In the relations between the two countries that could explain Chad’s decision.
An official statement released here said: “The government of Israel noted with sorrow the announcement of the government of Chad concerning the break off of diplomatic relations. Since Chad attained independence, the two states have maintained friendly relations which expressed themselves, among other things, in economic cooperation and technical assistance. In Israel’s opinion there was nothing In the relations between the two states that could serve as an explanation for Chad’s step.”
PRESSURE FROM ARAB STATES
Israel recognized Chad when It attained independence from France In 1960 and established an Embassy at Fort Lamy, the capital, two years later. There are presently seven Israeli families in Chad–those of Ambassador Yitzhak Navon, his secretary and five advisors in the fields of agriculture, printing, and youth work. President Francois Tombalbaye of Chad visited Israel in 1958 and 1965 and his wife was here last year. But there Is no Chad diplomatic mission in Israel.
Some sources here said the sudden break off of relations may have been the result of pressure from the Arab states, principally Libya, Chad’s northern neighbor, and Sudan on the east. Since 1968, Arab guerrillas in the northern and eastern parts of the country have waged a rebellion against President Tombalbaye’s regime. About 3500 French troops were sent to help fight the rebels, a move that raised controversy in France and Africa. The last French troops were pulled out In 1971 and the Chad government, though in control, reportedly took measures to appease the rebels.
Chad, an Impoverished land-locked country that was formerly part of French Equatorial Africa, has a population of about 3.5 million, similar to that of Israel, In an area of nearly a half million square miles, More than 50 percent of the population Is Modem. French is the official language but a dialect of Arabic is spoken in the northern and central areas.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.