“The next step before signing an agreement, the Sudanese will have to repeal two laws, the Boycott Law, which prohibits any trade with Israeli entities, and a law that prohibits the Sudanese from visiting Israel.” This is how Israeli journalist Barak Rafid summed up the outcome of a rare visit by Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen to Khartoum this week And that was at the head of a high-ranking delegation, and this visit was the first of its kind for a minister of this level since the announcement of the normalization agreement between Khartoum and Tel Aviv.
Since the Israeli delegation ended its blitzkrieg visit last Monday, the Sudanese have received their news from the Israeli media, amid an official Sudanese silence applied, which a high-ranking government official reasoned for “not having any information about it.”
The official source told Al-Jazeera Net that they were not informed of those talks, which were limited to the military rulers, and culminated in the signing of a joint memorandum of understanding.
A statement by the Israeli Ministry of Intelligence stated that “the Sudanese authorities informed the Israeli delegation of the progress made in abolishing the boycott of Israel law, and amending a law stipulating the imprisonment of Sudanese who sought refuge in Israel and returned to Sudan.”
For many weeks, the Sudanese Ministry of Justice has been working on preparing and marketing the abolition of the boycott of Israel law, in an attempt to clear the way for the political agreement expected to be signed in a ceremony likely to take place at the White House, while internal fears of angry reactions about the official announcement of this decision are increasing.
Requirements of the law
The boycott of Israel law was issued in 1958, and it was preceded on November 17, 1957 that the Sudanese Council of Ministers announced the severing of relations with Israel, in accordance with the decision of the Arab League, and included the import and export of goods.
The law consists of 7 articles prohibiting all forms of communication with Israel, including concluding agreements of any kind with bodies or persons residing in Israel, or with bodies or persons known to belong to or work for their nationality in Israel.
The law also prohibits dealing with national and foreign companies and establishments that have interests, branches, or public agencies in Israel, and prohibits the entry of Israeli goods, goods and products or that are exported from another country for the benefit of Tel Aviv, and the law also prohibits the export of Sudanese goods and products to Israel and goods that enter Sudan’s territory. Or pass through, and the law imposes penalties on violators of 10 years imprisonment or a fine determined by the court or with both punishments, in addition to confiscating the seized items.
Journalist and blogger Wasel Ali confirms to Al-Jazeera Net that Sudan promised the administration of former US President Donald Trump to cancel the boycott of Israel law before the end of Trump’s term, and an agreement was supposed to be signed in the White House, but the events that followed the storming of the Congress building spoiled those arrangements.
“It seems that the Sudanese government – especially the military component that appears most enthusiastic for normalization – wants the continuation of American support through the White House celebrating the agreement with Israel,” Ali added.
In turn, Gabriel Warburg, the Israeli historian specializing in the history of Sudan, says that Sudan has enjoyed regular trade relations with Israel since 1949, an issue that angered the Egyptian government, which in 1950 stopped an Italian ship carrying cotton seeds from Sudan bound for Israel, and after a protest from Rome, Cairo responded It considers Port Sudan an Egyptian port for trade purposes.
The British Foreign Office at the time – and the hadith by historian Gabriel – wrote a report warning that accepting the Egyptian argument gives legitimacy to the Egyptian allegations that Sudan is part of Egyptian territory, and the ministry stressed that there is no mandatory characteristic on Sudan for any law, decree or regulation issued by Cairo. Except with permission and approval of the Governor-General of Sudan, a position that remained the preserve of Britain.
Accordingly, the British government rejected the Egyptian demands that Sudan submit to the boycott decisions of Israel, and it relied on the 1899 agreement that Egypt had no right to order anything from the government of Sudan under the leadership of the Governor General to stop Sudan’s trade with any country.
In June 1950, the British Foreign Office ordered the Governor-General of Sudan, Sir Robert Howe, to act firmly against the Egyptian demands to stop Sudan’s trade with Israel, and among what Britain stressed was to allow the continuation of flights between Sudan and Israel.
And now, Sudan is moving aggressively toward restoring those old relations by signing the “Abraham” agreement leading to normalization with Israel on January 6, and this preceded the opening of the Sudanese airspace to the Israeli air force, followed by the arrival of a security delegation that held unannounced talks with military influential people, before That the Israeli intelligence minister’s delegation landed a few days ago in Sudan.
Three months after Sudan agreed to normalize relations with Israel, it has yet to sign a formal agreement to do so. Israeli officials tell me one reason has now emerged: Sudan wants to sign the deal at the White House. https://t.co/RzeHoe6jJv
– Wasil Ali – Wasil Ali (@wasilalitaha) January 27, 2021
Informed sources say to Al Jazeera Net that the Sudanese government has no choice but to cancel the boycott law, and that there is no room for talking about amending it, but the preponderant opinion within the Ministry of Justice is to go with the decision to the Legislative Council – not formed yet – after searching for a legitimacy with which to confront the loud voices of rejection. For normalization, and at the same time the government intends to impose a de-facto policy by exchanging visits and meetings with Israeli officials, and perhaps to overcome any objections in the expected parliament, the decision may be passed within the current legislative body, which is made up of the Sovereignty Council and the Council of Ministers.
For his part, political analyst Alaa Eddin Bashir believes that the Sudanese government is facing difficult challenges. If it decides to cancel the boycott law, it must show boldness and clarity of vision, and justify this step for the religious components expected to be intercepted, and then convince the rest of the political components of the viability of normalization in terms of pragmatism.
Bashir added to Al-Jazeera Net that the government has so far not been able to convince the public opinion and many political forces allied and opposition of the practical feasibility of the option of normalization, as the Khartoum government did not dare to defend it and avoid publicly addressing it, and the public opinion does not yet know the terms of the normalization agreement and the gains it obtained. Sudan from it.
However, Sudanese journalist and blogger Wasel Ali believes that the issue of normalization with Israel has become a “realization”, so that the opposition voices inside the government have been silent, especially after the United States fulfilled its pledges by removing Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism and lifting other sanctions and Congress approving aid Finance for Sudan.
Options and scenarios
Bashir says that the government has a choice not to abolish the law, and to adhere to its stated position that approving or rejecting the normalization agreement is the responsibility of the Transitional Legislative Council, but it spends the same time in its undeclared understandings with Tel Aviv until a good deal from America or the UAE hints at its economic stumbling block. And she helped her to go through the normalization process to the spotlight.
However, the Sudanese analyst points out that the second option will be diplomatically and morally costly. From the diplomatic point of view, the abolition of the law shows Khartoum’s credibility towards Tel Aviv in its desire for rapprochement as a strategic option, and not for pragmatic considerations or motivated by economic need, in addition to the fact that establishing normal relations with Israel confirms to Washington. Khartoum was sincere in turning its back on the fundamentalist approach that ruled Sudan for three decades.
And morally, Khartoum will find itself embarrassing in front of its people who are looking forward to a democratic transition, by being forced to suppress the protests that could arise from an intellectual and political standpoint if the people discovered what could result from establishing relations with Tel Aviv.
The same analyst adds, “The experiences in the Arab and Islamic regions confirm that it is difficult for countries to move towards establishing normal relations with Israel in a climate of freedom and real democracy without the leaders of these countries having a clear vision and intellectual courage in order to take that political risk, otherwise resorting to the machine of repression is the option.” Always ready. “
It is not unlikely that the government will face a constitutional challenge in the event that it commits an act that violates the laws of the country, which is to cancel the boycott of Israel law, and it will find itself forced to procrastinate and kick the law and the constitution, a trend that will enter the country into a suffocating crisis that will inevitably lead to great turmoil.