On Friday, Israel and Sudan agreed to normalize relations, coinciding with the announcement that US President Donald Trump signed a decree removing Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, amid Palestinian condemnation and the welcome of Egypt and the UAE.
The United States brokered the agreement between the two parties, making Sudan the fifth Arab country to establish relations with Israel, and the third Arab country to join the train of normalization with it within two months.
Senior US officials said that US President Donald Trump – who is seeking to win a second term in the November 3 elections – concluded the agreement in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok.
A joint US-Sudanese-Israeli statement said that Trump, Burhan, Hamdok and Netanyahu spoke today and discussed the progress of “Sudan’s historic toward democracy and advancing peace in the region.”
The statement added that the leaders of Israel, America and Sudan agreed to start economic and trade relations between Sudan and Israel, with an initial focus on agriculture, stressing that America will take steps to restore Sudan’s sovereign immunity and work with international partners to ease the burden of its debt.
5 countries are on the way
Trump spoke with al-Burhan and Netanyahu in conjunction with the two countries ’announcement of their intention to normalize relations, and said he expected that the Palestinians and many other countries would agree to closer relations with Israel in the coming months.
He said that at least 5 other countries want to join a peace agreement with Israel, which specifically stipulated Saudi Arabia, saying that he is sure that it will join the rally soon.
During a phone call with Trump to reporters at the White House, Netanyahu welcomed what he described as the expanding circle of peace, and said that Israel is taking steps towards normalizing relations with Sudan, and that this represents a “new era” in the region.
Netanyahu thanked the US President for brokering the agreement, and also said that Israeli and Sudanese delegations would meet soon to discuss trade and agricultural cooperation.
The agreement was mediated by the American side, Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser, the US Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and national security official Miguel Correa.
“This is clearly a big breakthrough,” Kushner told Reuters. “This will clearly create a major breakthrough in peace between Israel and Sudan. Concluding peace agreements is not as easy as we are currently photographing, it is very difficult.”
Officials said a signing ceremony for the agreement was expected at the White House in the coming weeks.
A stab in the back and a political sin
The first external reaction to the declaration of normalization between Sudan and Israel came from Palestine, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday that the Palestinians reject and condemn Sudan’s move to normalize relations with Israel, through US mediation.
“No one has the right to speak in the name of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause,” said a statement released by Abbas’s office.
Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Wasel Abu Yusef, said that Sudan’s accession to “the printing press with the Israeli occupation state constitutes a new stab in the back of the Palestinian people, a betrayal of its just cause, and a departure from the Arab peace initiative.”
The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) also considered the normalization of relations between Israel and Sudan a “political sin.”
“The announcement of the normalization of relations between Sudan and the occupying state is a political sin, and it harms our Palestinian people and their just cause, and harms Sudanese and Arab interests,” said the movement’s spokesman, Hazem Qassem, in a statement.
Egyptian Emirati welcome
On Friday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said he welcomed the joint efforts of Sudan, the United States and Israel to normalize relations between Tel Aviv and Khartoum.
Al-Sisi said on Twitter, “I welcome the joint efforts of the United States of America, Sudan and Israel regarding the normalization of relations between Sudan and Israel, and I value all efforts aimed at achieving regional stability and peace.”
For its part, the Arab Emirates News Agency (WAM) quoted a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the UAE welcoming Sudan’s decision to normalize relations with the State of Israel.
The ministry said, “Sudan’s decision to initiate relations with the State of Israel is an important step to enhance security and prosperity in the region, stressing that this achievement would expand the scope of economic, commercial, scientific and diplomatic cooperation.”
As part of the agreement, Trump took steps to remove Sudan from the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism.
A senior US official said that Trump signed a document on Air Force One last night, to notify Congress of his intention to remove Sudan from the list.
RT @USEmbassyKRTWe congratulate Sudan and the Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok for President Trump’s decision to proceed with removing Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism. This is a historic moment in US-Sudanese relations, and we are committed to supporting Sudan’s steps towards democracy. https://t.co/AE66p3rhro
– US State Department (@USAbilAraby) October 23, 2020
The Sudanese Prime Minister thanked – in his tweet – President Trump for “today signing the Executive Order to remove Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism.”
He stressed that his country continues “to coordinate with the US administration and Congress to complete the process of removing Sudan from the list as soon as possible,” adding, “We look forward to external relations that best serve the interests of our people.”
I thank President Trump for signing today the Executive Order to remove Sudan from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism. We continue to coordinate with the US administration and Congress to complete the process of removing Sudan from the list as soon as possible.
We look forward to external relations that best serve the interests of our people.
– Abdalla Hamdok (@SudanPMHamdok) October 23, 2020
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States had begun the process of removing Sudan from the US list of states sponsoring terrorism, and was also working “diligently” to push Khartoum to recognize Israel.
The US position came after Sudan transferred $ 355 million to compensate American victims and their families.
The classification of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism dates back to the era of ousted President Omar al-Bashir, which makes it difficult for the transitional government to obtain foreign funding or urgent debt relief.
Many in Sudan say that the designation imposed in 1993 because Washington saw Bashir as a supporter of armed groups has been outdated since Bashir was ousted last year.