The Sudan Council of Ministers weighs on the normalization of Israel


October 26, 2020

Sudan’s Council of Ministers released a statement on Sunday on the country’s moves to normalize relations with Israel, the interim body’s first recognition since US President Donald Trump announced on Friday that Sudan would be the last country. of the region to recognize the Jewish state.

The statement was careful emphasize the economic benefits which would arrive in Sudan following the Trump administration’s removal of Khartoum from the list of US terror sponsors.

He also reiterated that Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has requested the US administration to decouple the two processes and that full normalization – albeit agreed in principle during a three-way phone call between leaders on Friday – will require approval by a legislative council. which has yet to do so. be formed.

Despite an agreement in principle reached months earlier on the removal of Sudan from the list, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a new request during a trip to Khartoum in August: that Sudan recognize Israel. Hamdok hesitated, but the negotiations continued.

The White House announcement on Friday came as Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hamdok, and Sovereignty Council Vice President, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, spoke on the phone.

On Monday, the Vice President of the Sovereign Council of Sudan, General Muhammad “Hamedti” Hamdan Daglo, expressed his support for normalization.

“What’s our problem with Israel? We are not the first country to normalize, “said Hamedti, according to Al-Arabiyya.” The Palestinians have normalized and have a relationship with it. ”

Because matter: Sudan’s unelected interim leaders are walking a political razor’s edge in hopes of getting desperately needed economic aid and international support.

On Friday in Khartoum dozens of protesters opposed the normalization plan. Sudan’s head of the National Umma Party, former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, and the country’s People’s Congress Party criticized the proposal. The Sudanese Baath party has also spoken out against the move.

Recognizing Israel is a sensitive issue in Sudan, which played an important role in Arab national resistance to normalization with the Jewish state in the second half of the 20th century.

Sudan’s interim government was installed last year after popular protests led to the overthrow of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir. If the Sudanese public perceives that the new government has been heavily armed in ties with Israel, it could fuel greater instability, potentially risking the country’s transition to democracy, experts warned.

Trump is seeking a pre-election political victory, and both the United States and Israel have an interest in bringing Sudan into their Middle East security orbit. Long allied with Iran, Sudan was once an arms conduit for Hamas.

Sudan agreed to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization amid the US-led push for normalization.

What’s next: Sudan’s interim leaders are betting that if they proceed cautiously, the benefits could outweigh the risks in the public eye. Bashir left Sudan with over $ 60 billion in debt, and removal from the terror sponsor list will facilitate Khartoum’s access to foreign investment and support.

And although modest in light of Khartoum’s needs, aid packages are already on the way. The Abu Dhabi Development Fund has prepared a $ 556 million aid package for Sudan, with the remainder of a $ 1.5 billion grant pledged last year still to come, according to Al-Arabiya.

The US State Department announced $ 81 million in humanitarian aid to Sudan on Saturday. Israel is also preparing $ 5 million in grain for Sudan.

Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and some Western countries have already praised the deal.

Learn more: Rina Bassist takes a look at what normalization of relations with Sudan would mean for Israelis at a time when both countries are facing their own internal problems.

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