The Warming Ties between Israel and Sudan

October 16, 2020

by: Kate Norman

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Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok

Friday, 16 October 2020 | Sudan is likely to become the next Muslim majority nation to normalize ties with Israel, following an ultimatum from the US government.

Sudanese government sources have told Israel’s i24News that the North African nation has decided to push forward and establish formal relations with the Jewish state after being given a 24-hour deadline by the US to make a decision. 

The US reportedly promised billions of dollars in aid to the transitional government as well as promising to remove Sudan from a list of states who sponsor terror.

Sudan is struggling to rebuild after ousting its former ruler, Omar al-Bashir, in 2019. It was under his regime that the nation was placed on the US government’s state terror sponsor list. Remaining on that list has made it difficult for the nation to recover financially, due to sanctions and an inability to receive support from foreign nations.

The Muslim majority nation has certainly experienced pushback from a vocal Islamic sector, but journalists and activists are painting another picture of the public opinion.

A recently founded organization called the Sudanese–Israeli Friendship Society held a videoconference meeting on Thursday with a group of Israelis to discuss the Sudanese people’s interest in forging ties with the Jewish state.

The co-founder of the group said that the outside world is being told that the people are against normalization with Israel, but they are seeing the opposite.

“The trend is in favor, and it continues to gain momentum,” El-Sadig Ishaq said. “That’s what we hear and see on the street, especially with young people. That’s why we felt encouraged to create the Friendship Society, because it reflects the will of the people.”

The activist and Friendship Society co-founder added that Sudan’s young people are beginning to ignore what they are taught about Israel in school.

“Especially young people have been able to get their news from alternative sources and have been seeing the true face of Israel for a long time,” he said. “And we do our best to disseminate accurate information about Israel as well.”

Nonetheless, the battle is not over yet for the Sudanese who wish for peace with Israel. They face opposition from Muslim clerics and current government policies that still ban contact with the Israeli people.

A former Sudanese member of Parliament is working to organize a delegation to visit Israel “to break the psychological barrier” and “[encourage] our government to accelerate normalization with Israel.”

Abu Al-Qasim Bortom told the Times of Israel that he has received over 1,000 requests to join his delegation, though none are from government officials—who have yet to give their nod of approval for his trip.

Though the people and government of Sudan have yet to reach a consensus on forging a friendship with Israel, these vocal groups and individuals all assert that the majority opinion in the nation is to push forward. With the added pressure from Washington, Sudan will likely follow the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, who signed the historic Abraham Accords for peace with Israel in Washington last month. 

Posted on October 16, 2020

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 16, 2020)

Photo Credit: Ola A .Alsheikh

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