Sudan says ‘looking forward to conclude peace agreement with Israel’
KHARTOUM/ JERUSALEM--Israel and Sudan on Tuesday said they are close to reaching a peace agreement, setting the stage for a second dramatic normalisation move between Israel and one of its Arab neighbours in a matter of days.
A Sudanese foreign ministry official announced that his government is “looking forward to concluding a peace agreement with Israel,” drawing a promise from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to “do all that’s needed” to wrap up a deal.
The announcements came days after Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced an agreement to establish formal diplomatic ties.
Sudan is known for having a hostile history with Israel.
It hosted the landmark Arab conference after the 1967 Mideast war in which eight Arab countries approved the “three no’s: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations.”
In 1993, the US designated Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism for its support of a number of anti-Israel militant groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah.
Sky News Arabia quoted a Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman as saying his government looked forward to a peace agreement “based on equality and Sudanese interests.”
“There is no reason to continue hostility between Sudan and Israel,” the spokesman, Haidar Badawi, was quoted as saying.
“We don’t deny that there are communications” with Israel, he added, saying both countries would gain much from a deal.
In a statement, Netanyahu said Israel, Sudan and the entire region will benefit. “We will do all that’s needed to turn this vision into a reality,” he said.
After Thursday’s announcement with the UAE, Netanyahu predicted that other Arab countries would soon follow suit.
In February, Netanyahu met General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of Sudan’s transitional government, during a trip to Uganda where they pledged to pursue normalisation.
After their meeting in Entebbe February 3, the Israeli prime minister’s office revealed that Israeli and Sudanese officials “agreed to start cooperation leading to normalisation of the relationship between the two countries.”
“Burhan is eager to help his country modernise by taking it out of isolation and putting it on the world’s map,” added the statement.
Sudan’s normalisation drive was said to have been motivated by its wish to get rid of sanctions linked to its listing by the US as a state sponsor of terror — a key step toward ending its isolation and rebuilding its economy after the popular uprising that toppled longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir last year.
A Sudanese official acknowledged in February that the meeting with Netanyahu was aimed at helping remove the US terror listing, which dates back to the 1990s, when Sudan briefly hosted Osama bin Laden and other wanted terrorists.
Under Bashir, Sudan was also believed to have served as a pipeline for Iran to supply weapons to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. Israel was believed to have been behind airstrikes in Sudan that destroyed a convoy in 2009 and a weapons factory in 2012.
Last week’s announcement made the UAE the third Arab country to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel.
Egypt was the first, in 1979, followed by Jordan in 1994. Unofficial ties with Gulf Arab nations have also grown in recent years, fueled by shared enmity toward Iran.
A deal with Sudan could also give Netanyahu a boost at home.
Along with normalisation with Arab countries, Israel has long courted African support. Israel renewed diplomatic relations with Guinea in 2016. After Netanyahu visited Chad for a renewal of ties in 2019, it was reported that Israel was working to formalise ties with Sudan.
Israel has in recent years established or resumed diplomatic ties with 39 of 47 sub-Saharan African states.