Report: Muslim-majority Sudan to recognize Israel under alleged US pressure

No official Sudanese statement has yet been issued corroborating the i24News report.

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Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. (BBC News)

Sudan’s ruling council has reportedly decided to move ahead with normalizing diplomatic relations with Israel following a 24-hour deadline imposed by the US government, Israeli channel i24News reported on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the US allegedly gave Sudan a deadline to decide whether to establish diplomatic ties with Israel in exchange for removing the country’s name from Washington’s state sponsors of terrorism list.

(Getty Images)

No official Sudanese statement has yet been issued corroborating the i24News report.

Sudan was put on the US list in the early 1990s when the now-ousted President Omar al-Bashir hosted al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The country continues to suffer under heavy economic sanctions.

US Secretary of State Pompeo arrives in Khartoum, Sudan, Aug. 25, 2020. (Photo: Twitter)

Israel signed diplomatic agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain last month, under the sponsorship of US President Donald Trump.

This broke a longstanding consensus among Arab states that normalization with Israel is contingent on a resolution to the Israeli occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state.

The signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain. (United States Department of State)

Since August, both Israeli and US government figures have repeatedly hinted that other Arab countries would follow in the two Gulf states’ footsteps. Although several countries have had unofficial relations with Israel for years, they have yet to follow suit and formalize ties.

While some governments have touted the economic and diplomatic benefits of such a move, several polls have shown that most of the region’s citizens remain opposed to normalization with Israel.

Sudanese MP Abu al-Qasim Bortom. (MEMRI)

On Thursday, Abu al-Qasim Bortom, a former Sudanese MP, told the Times of Israel that he was planning a “civilian delegation” to Israel “to break the psychological barrier” between Israelis and Sudanese.

“This delegation is not about politics or business. It is about encouraging our government to accelerate normalization with Israel. We want to help our government take more serious steps towards normalization,” Bortom said.

According to the Middle East Eye, Bortom was part of the “Spare Parties,” a group of small political parties formed under Bashir’s rule to gain power in parliament and pursue their interests.

Since Bashir was ousted in April 2019, many of the “Spare Parties” MPs and politicians have attempted to figure out the new political arena rules and where the power is shifting.

In February, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Bibi Netanyahu met in secret with Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the chairman of Sudan’s ruling Sovereignty Council, in Uganda, and the two leaders agreed to start the process of normalizing ties.

Sudanese General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan secretly met with Israeli PM Netanyahu in February. (EPA)

In August, the UAE arranged an unannounced meeting between the vice president of the Sovereignty Council, Commander of the Rapid Support Forces Hemeti, and the head of the Israeli Mossad, Yossi Cohen, to discuss prospects for normalization with Israel.

Sudanese General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemeti. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Shortly before he was removed, Bashir said he was advised to normalize ties with Israel, a request he rejected.

Israel and Sudan never had official bilateral relations, although Israel does enjoy close relations with South Sudan, which split from Sudan in 2011.

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