Destination Normalization: Israel, Sudan in the Final Phase of Negotiations

October 23, 2020

by: Ilse Strauss

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Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok

Friday, 23 October 2020 | The Jewish state is set to welcome its third Muslim nation peace partner in just over three months.

According to Hebrew media, Israel and Sudan have agreed to normalize relations in a US-brokered deal and will formally announce the establishment of diplomatic ties over the weekend or early next week.

A senior Israel–US delegation arrived in Khartoum on Wednesday aboard a highly unusual direct flight from Tel Aviv to Khartoum to finalize the details of the normalization deal that will make Sudan the third Arab nation to shun the decades-old anti-Israel status quo and join the Jerusalem peace fold.

The north African country will follow in the footsteps of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain making similar announcements in August and September respectively.

“In my estimation, there will be a White House announcement on an agreement between Israel and Sudan in the coming days,” an Israeli government source said yesterday.

The announcement will reportedly come after a phone call between US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Sudan’s transitional leader, Lt.–Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

Despite reports, the normalization may not be as cut and dry. Hamdok currently heads a transitional government that came into power after long-time president Omar al-Bashir—who stands accused of organizing war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court—was deposed in a coup d’état last year.

Following al-Bashir’s bloody rule, Hamdok aims to steer the country toward a peaceful democracy. He is concerned, however, that normalizing relations with Israel would be an unpopular move that could destabilize the fragile nation. For this reason, Hamdok plans to leave the normalization decision to the country’s yet unformed transitional parliament, Reuters reports.

This will mean that the normalization process may happen at a much slower pace than the UAE and Bahrain deals.

The new dawn of Israel–Sudan relations comes days after the US announced that it was taking Sudan off the US State Sponsors of Terrorism list after Khartoum paid US $335 million in compensation to the American victims of terror and their families.

The US did point out that removing the terror designation was not contingent on Sudan normalizing ties with Israel, but at the same time admitted that they have encouraged Khartoum—among others—to embrace peace with Jerusalem.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a press release on Wednesday that the US is “continuing to work to get every nation to recognize Israel, the rightful Jewish homeland, and to acknowledge their basic, fundamental right to exist as a country, and that certainly includes Sudan.”

Pompeo also congratulated Hamdok yesterday, applauding his “efforts to date to improve Sudan’s relationship with Israel and expressed hope that they would continue.”

Whether former foes Israel and Sudan will be friends come next week and whether that process will be a slow unfolding as opposed to a quick embrace remains to be seen. What is clear, however, is that in the present climate sweeping the Middle East, anything is possible.

Posted on October 23, 2020

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 23, 2020)

Photo Credit: Office of USAID Administrator

Photo License: Wikimedia