According to an Israel Hayom Thursday morning report citing a government source, Sudan has decided to normalize relations with Israel. According to the report, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rushed out of a cabinet meeting to answer a phone call regarding the new peace deal, much as he had done more than a month ago ahead of the deal with the United Arab Emirates.
The official, public announcement of the decision is expected this coming weekend or early next week, following a phone conversation between President Donald Trump and Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, the country’s transitional head of state.
Haaretz reporter Avi Scharf tweeted Wednesday night about a business jet that flew from Tel Aviv to Khartoum and back Wednesday morning, which was the second known direct flight between the two countries, the first one having carried an Israeli medical delegation to Sudan.
Israel Hayom has learned that a high-level Israeli delegation flew onboard the plane Wednesday, from the Mossad and the Prime Minister’s Office. The senior Israeli representatives met in the Sudanese capital with their counterparts in the Provisional Government. At the conclusion of the talks, the final agreement was reached on mutual recognition between Israel and Sudan.
Trump tweeted on Monday: “GREAT news! New government of Sudan, which is making great progress, agreed to pay $335 MILLION to U.S. terror victims and families. Once deposited, I will lift Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. At long last, JUSTICE for the American people and BIG step for Sudan!”
GREAT news! New government of Sudan, which is making great progress, agreed to pay $335 MILLION to U.S. terror victims and families. Once deposited, I will lift Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. At long last, JUSTICE for the American people and BIG step for Sudan!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 19, 2020
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday night the US had begun the process of removing Sudan from the list of countries that support terrorism and added that he is working to bring about Khartoum’s recognition of Israel, but he did not suggest that the former was conditioned on the latter.
In late August, Secretary Pompeo reported:
Met with Sudanese Sovereign Council Chair General Burhan to reaffirm U.S. support for the civilian-led transitional government and support for the deepening Israel-Sudan bilateral relationship. pic.twitter.com/kwQ9BlsgeK
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) August 25, 2020
Reuters reported that US pressure on Sudan to normalize ties with its former adversary Israel has stirred public debate, “exposing splits that could complicate any swift settlement of a deal.”
According to Reuters, the generals leading Sudan’s political transition government want normalization, but left-wing and Islamist politicians are reluctant. Many in Sudan, including officials within the new government, fear that such a major foreign policy switch would upset the delicate balance between military and civilian factions.
Yonatan Touval, a senior foreign policy analyst at Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, suggested in an op-ed in Haaretz Tuesday that as exciting as the—theoretical—possibility that Israelis could now drive their cars (4×4 recommended) from Tel Aviv to Johannesburg, the US’ bullying Sudan into signing a peace deal with Israel (he titled his article Trump Is Bullying Sudan Into Embracing Israel. It Won’t End Well), could jeopardize the fledgling Sudanese democracy.
Touval suggested that the Islamist factions in Sudan would use the military’s peace deal with Israel to stir up resistance within the Sudanese population. In his opinion, Sudan would be better off signing the deal after its first democratic election, which is scheduled for 2022.
— Yonatan_Touval (@Yonatan_Touval) October 20, 2020
Incidentally, the reported $335 million compensation Sudan agreed to pay American terror victims will most likely come out of a $3 billion debt forgiveness the US reportedly promised Sudan.