Sudan becomes third Arab state in weeks to announce ties with Israel

Sudan and Israel would begin to establish diplomatic ties, US President Donald Trump announced on Friday.

“Huge win today for the United States and for peace in the world,” Trump tweeted. “Sudan has agreed to a peace and normalization agreement with Israel! With the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, that’s three Arab countries to have done so in only a matter of weeks. More will follow!”

The tweet came after Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sudanese Chairman of the Sovereignty Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok spoke on the phone.

Hours earlier, the US officially removed Sudan from its state sponsors of terrorism list, after it paid $335 million in compensation for American victims of terror and their families.

The joint US-Israel-Sudan statement said Sudan and Israel’s leaders “agreed to the normalization of relations…and to the end the state of belligerence between their nations,” as well as economic and trade ties.

Delegations from Israel and Sudan are expected to meet in the coming weeks to negotiate cooperation agreements. Agriculture will be one of the major focuses of the new ties, as Sudan has large swaths of unused arable land and hopes Israeli agri-tech will help improve its economic situation.

The statement also mentions that the delegations will discuss “migration issues,” as thousands of Sudanese migrants have moved to Israel in the past 15 years. Asked if repatriation of migrants, which Netanyahu has sought over the past decade, was on the table, an Israeli official said “the issue is still ahead of us.” Sudanese nationals illegally entering Israel could not be deported previously, because of the humanitarian situation in their country and because Israel did not have ties with Sudan.

Netanyahu called the declaration “another dramatic breakthrough for peace, another Arab state joining the circle of peace.”

He highlighted the “great turnaround,” these ties symbolize, in that Khartoum was the site of the 1967 Arab League “three nos” declaration of no peace, no recognition and no negotiations with Israel.

“Today Khartoum has said, ‘Yes to peace with Israel, yes to recognition of Israel and yes to normalization with Israel,’” Netanyahu said. “This is a new era, an era of true peace, a peace that is expanding with other Arab countries, with three of them joining in recent weeks…We are expanding the circle of peace. What excitement; there should be more.”

In the conference call between the leaders, which Trump conducted in front of reporters, the US president said that there are “many, many more coming” and that there were “at least five” Arab and Muslim states who wanted to normalize ties with Israel.

Hamdok thanked Trump and Netanyahu, saying they are starting “a new chapter in our history of Sudan.

Burhan said “the agreement will strengthen our relations and serve the interest of local and regional security and peace.”

The normalization between Israel and Sudan will likely occur more slowly than the process with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, announced in August and September, respectively, because of the unique circumstances in Sudan.

Sudan’s current, transitional government came after longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir was toppled last year, and it seeks to shift the country towards democracy.

Hamdok, in particular, was concerned that linking relations with Israel to the process of removing Sudan from the US state sponsors of terror list could be destabilizing and not within a transitional government’s purview, while Burhan pushed for Sudan to reap the economic and security benefits of such ties.

While the US did not condition removing the designation or providing much-needed economic aid on normalization with Israel, it has strongly encouraged Sudan to move in that direction.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan spoke by phone with his Sudanese counterpart, Ambassador Omer Mohamed Ahmed Siddig. They congratulating each other while agreeing to meet in the coming days to discuss cooperation at the UN in the areas of technology, agriculture, trade and tourism.

Erdan received the announcement on the normalization between the respective countries during his first working meeting with Bahrain’s Ambassador Jamal Fares Alrowaiei.

On Monday he is set to speak for the first time before the Security Council in a discussion that is expected to focus on the latest developments in the region.

Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi tweeted: “I welcome the joint efforts of the US, Sudan and Israel in normalizing relations between Sudan and Israel, and I value all efforts aimed at regional stability and peace.”

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