Israel and Sudan may sign a normalization deal in the near future, Israel’s intelligence minister said Sunday.
“A normalization agreement with Sudan is coming soon. This historical agreement may be signed before the new year,” Eli Cohen told KAN, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, in the wake of last week’s controversial deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Sudan may normalise relations with Israel
Israeli commentators had speculated the new contacts with Khartoum could allow for the repatriation of undocumented Sudanese migrants in Israel, and Israel could in turn lobby the United States to improve Sudan’s standing in Washington.
Khartoum said on February 5 it had given Israeli planes initial approval to fly over its territory, two days after Sudan’s military head of state, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, met Netanyahu in Uganda.
“Now we’re discussing rapid normalisation. The first Israeli aeroplane passed yesterday over the skies of Sudan,” Netanyahu said in a speech to US Jewish leaders on Sunday, saying the route cut some three hours off flights from Israel to South America.
Sudan has stopped short of saying it is normalising ties with Israel.
Plan Favours illegal occupations
The plan heavily favours Israel and proposes it keep all its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war.
After the meeting in Uganda, the Associated Press news agency quoted a Sudanese military official as saying the decision was coordinated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and also aimed at removing Sudan from the US’s list of “state sponsors of terrorism”.
Sudan officially went to war with Israel in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and the Six-Day War in 1967 though it did not participate in the Suez Crisis. In the early 1950s, Sudan – then still not independent – had active trade relations with Israel. Now, sudan may seek to normalise relations with Israel.
Israel previously considered Sudan to be a security threat because it suspected Iran used Sudan as a conduit for overland smuggling of munitions to the Gaza Strip. In 2009, regional sources said, Israeli aircraft bombed an arms convoy in Sudan.
The corridor described by Netanyahu would also take planes over Egypt, which signed a peace deal with Israel in 1979, and Chad, which in 2018 restored long-severed relations with Israel.
Sudan did not actively participate in the Yom Kippur War, as Sudanese forces arrived too late to participate. Israel backed Christian militias that fought the Sudanese government in the First and Second Sudanese Civil Wars.
Israel had provided aid to Sudan during crisis
In January 2016, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour floated normalized ties with Israel provided the U.S. government lifts economic sanctions. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir followed that up by saying in an interview with Saudi newspaper Okaz, “Even if Israel had conquered Syria, it would not have inflicted the destruction taking place there right now, would not have killed the number of people killed so far and would not have expelled people the way they are being expelled now.”
Israel flew medics and equipment to Sudan to try and save a diplomat infected with COVID-19. There may hence be a bid from Sudan to normalise relations with Israel.
It was revealed in early September 2016 that Israel had contacted the U.S. government and other Western countries and encouraged them to take steps to improve relations with Sudan in wake of the break-in relations between the Arab-African country and Iran in the past year, all but confirming a secret alliance between Sudan and Israel.
Kara later revealed at an event in Beersheba that he was maintaining contacts with many Sudanese officials and did not deny that a Sudanese official had recently visited Israel.
In February 2020, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, met in Uganda, where they both agreed to normalize the ties between the two countries. Later that month, Israeli planes were allowed to fly over Sudan.
The UAE is the first Gulf state and third Arab nation to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel after Egypt and Jordan.
Despite reports that the deal halted Israel’s controversial plan to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed his government’s continued commitment to the annexation plan.
Palestinian groups denounced the deal, saying it does nothing to serve the Palestinian cause and ignores the rights of Palestinians.
Anadolu with additional information from GVS News Desk