Djibouti's president: If Israel makes one gesture of peace, we will make 10 in return

In an interview, the president of the African country told about the unofficial relations between the countries, but said that "the conditions aren't ripe" for normalization. "We take issue with the Israeli government because they’re denying Palestinians their inalienable rights," he said 

Ismail Omar Guelleh, president of Djibouti. Archive photo: REUTERS/Tiska Negeri

“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,” said the president of Djibouti, Ismail Omar Guelleh, in an interview with The Africa Report magazine. However, when he was asked about whether his country would follow in the footsteps of Bahrain, Sudan and the UAE, and normalize relations with Israel, he said "the conditions aren't ripe." 

“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,” the president said.

Djibouti, located on the Horn of Africa, is one of the youngest countries in the world, having received independence from France in 1977. It is a small country with a population of a little less than one million, but it has great geostrategic importance. Djibouti hosts more foreign militaries than any other country in the world. Among others, it has the only permanent US base on African soil, Camp Lemmonier, and a base of the Chinese Navy. Since it borders the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden to the east, Djibouti serves as a main stopover and refueling point on the busy trade route, and as a sea outlet for Ethiopia. In light of the conflicts destabilizing its neighbors Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen, there is increasing interest in the small country.