Djibouti president: Time isn't right for deal with Israel

Sunni-majority Djibouti 'has no problem with Jews or Israel', says president - but deal not relevant until Israel makes 'gesture of peace'.

Tags: Djibouti
Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh
Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh

Djibouti’s president said the time isn’t ripe for a deal normalizing relations with Israel, but left the door open to a possible agreement sometime in the future.

In an interview to The Africa Report, President Ismail Omar Guelleh said that despite a string of recent agreements normalizing relations between Israel and Muslim countries like Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Sudan, “conditions aren’t ripe” for a treaty between Djibouti and the Jewish state.

“The conditions aren’t ripe,” said Guelleh. “We neither have a problem with the Jews as a people nor the Israelis as a nation. Some of them even come to Djibouti on business with their passport, and Djibouti’s citizens have been able to travel to Israel for 25 years now.”

Guelleh did hint at the possibility of a deal with Israel in the future, however, conditioning it on Israel making a “gesture of peace”.

Nevertheless, Guelleh said he was not optimistic about the prospects for such an arrangement.

“We take issue with the Israeli government because they’re denying Palestinians their inalienable rights. All we ask that the government do is make one gesture of peace, and we will make 10 in return. But I’m afraid they’ll never do that.”

Djibouti, a small nation of about 900,000 in the Horn of Africa, is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim.

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced plans to visit Bahrain following a phone call with the Crown Prince Monday night, during which Netanyahu was invited to visit Manama.

“I spoke now with the Crown Prince of Bahrain, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa,” said Netanyahu in a statement Tuesday morning. “It was our second conversation, and it was very coridial.”

“We are both very excited by the fact that we are able to bring the fruits of peace to our two peoples and our countries in the very near future.”

“Therefore, he invited me to come for an official state visit in Bahrain in the near future, which I will do.”