Two Sudanese government sources said Thursday that Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok is ready to proceed with the normalization of relations with Israel once the transitional parliament – which has not yet been formed – approves the move.
It is difficult for such a move to take place soon, as parliament still has to be formed under a power-sharing agreement between military officers and civilians who have run Sudan together since the ouster of former President Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
The technocrat government headed by Hamdok has rejected – until now – the US efforts aimed at pushing Sudan to follow the example of the UAE and Bahrain, which signed agreements to establish official relations with Israel at the White House last month.
In contrast, the military figures leading the political transition seemed open to normalizing relations with Israel, but civilian groups, including left-wing politicians and Islamists, are more reluctant to do so.
The two senior Sudanese government sources told Reuters that Khartoum’s warning reflects fears that such a major foreign policy move could spoil the delicate balance between the military and civilians, and might even endanger the government.
The US State Department said in a statement that Secretary Mike Pompeo praised, in a phone call with Hamdok on Thursday, “his efforts so far to improve Sudan’s relationship with Israel and expressed hope that it would continue.”
A member of the Central Office of the Forces of Freedom and Change in Sudan and the head of the Nasserite Unionist Party, Jamal Idris, said that the issue of normalization with Israel is rejected for them, and that the rejection must be the position of the Sudanese government as well.
Idris stressed in a previous interview with Al-Jazeera, the need for the Hamdok government to be transparent in this matter and be clear to the Sudanese people of any steps contrary to the stated position.
On the other hand, Eldad Pardo, professor of political science at the Hebrew University, said that the normalization of relations between Israel and Sudan will have great symbolic and civilizational significance, adding that Israel can exploit its relations in the world to help Sudan build trade relations.
For its part, Israel Radio reported that an Israeli delegation arrived in Khartoum on Wednesday on board a plane that came directly from Tel Aviv, and stayed there for 7 hours.
In a related context, Al-Jazeera Net correspondent Ahmed Fadl reported on a reliable source in the government of Sudan that he would not confirm or deny the visit of the Israeli delegation in preparation for the normalization of relations, but he confirmed that the discussions with the United States include the normalization file in terms of incentives, not conditions.
The source told Al-Jazeera Net that the Sovereignty Council and the Ministers did not raise the issue of normalization with Israel during the past days.
According to the same source, the last time the file of normalization was raised at the level of the Chamber of the Sovereignty and the Council of Ministers was last September, after a Sudanese delegation headed by Al-Burhan visited Abu Dhabi, where they discussed with American and Emirati officials the possibility of normalization with Tel Aviv.
The source emphasized that Pompeo’s visit to Khartoum last August did not discuss normalization with Israel as a condition for removing Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism.
But the source stated that the Americans accepted Hamdok’s request to separate the paths of normalization and the list of terrorism, but they always point to the incentives and benefits that Sudan could gain in the event of normalization with Israel.