Sudan to ‘move forward’ with Israel on normalising relations

Sudan’s military, which has been in charge of the country since an October 2021 coup, is seen as leading the effort towards establishing ties with Israel.

Sudan and Israel flags
Sudan agreed to take steps to normalise ties with Israel in a 2020 deal brokered by former US President Donald Trump's administration [File: Jack Guez and Ashraf Shazly/AFP]

Sudan said it agreed to “move forward” towards normalising relations with Israel during talks with visiting Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in Khartoum.

The trip to Khartoum on Thursday was part of an exchange of visits between Sudan and Israel. They include discussions on reaching and signing a normalisation agreement as well as military and security issues.

Cohen’s visit to Khartoum was the first by an Israeli official acknowledged by Sudanese authorities.

“During the visit, which was made with the consent of the United States, the parties finalised the text of the agreement,” an Israeli foreign ministry statement said.

“The signing ceremony is expected to take place after the transfer of power in Sudan to a civilian government that will be established as part of the ongoing transition process in the country.”

Sudan’s army chief, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, hosted Cohen.

“It has been agreed to move forward towards the normalisation of relations between the two countries,” the Sudanese foreign ministry said following a meeting between Cohen and his Sudanese counterpart Ali al-Sadiq.

Thursday’s talks touched briefly on “achieving stability and peace between Israel and the Palestinians”, the Sudanese statement said, without elaborating.

Discussions also included “ways to establish fruitful relations” between the two countries and “prospects of cooperation” in security, agriculture, energy, health, water and education, according to a statement by Sudan’s sovereign council.

‘Historic state visit’

Sudan agreed to take steps to normalise ties with Israel in a 2020 deal brokered by former US President Donald Trump’s administration, which also achieved normalisation agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco known as the Abraham Accords.

There was no immediate comment from Israeli officials about the Sudan visit, but Cohen’s office said he would later hold a news conference “upon his return from an historic state visit”. It did not elaborate.

As intelligence minister in 2021, Cohen made a ground-breaking visit to Sudan.

On Wednesday, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported an Israeli official said Sudan was likely to be the next country to join the Abraham Accords after negotiations between it and Israel had been held in recent days and weeks.

Sudan’s military, which has been in charge of the country since an October 2021 coup but says it intends to hand over power to a civilian government, is seen as having led the move towards establishing relations with Israel.

Civilian groups have been more reluctant and previously said any deal must be ratified by a transitional parliament that is yet to be formed.

Two-state solution

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who returned to power late last year at the head of the most right-wing government in the country’s history, has made broadening Israeli ties across the Arab and Muslim world a foreign policy priority.

Netanyahu has repeatedly expressed his desire to see Saudi Arabia join the Abraham Accords.

The kingdom’s top diplomat said last month it would not normalise ties with Israel in the absence of a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

On Thursday, Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno opened his majority-Muslim country’s embassy in Israel, four years after the countries renewed ties following a decades-long rupture.

Netanyahu’s office in a statement called the embassy’s inauguration in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv “a historic moment”.

Source: Reuters