Israel sends first delegation to Sudan since normalisation

Published November 24, 2020
A file photo shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, right. — AP
A file photo shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, right. — AP

JERUSALEM: Israel on Monday sent a delegation to Sudan, its first since last month’s announcement of normalisation of relations between the two countries, a senior Israeli official said.

For days there have been rumours in Jerusalem that a delegation would visit Khartoum in the wake of the accord announced by US President Donald Trump on October 23.

Israeli army radio reported on Monday that the trip was under way.

The Israeli official confirmed the report but declined to say who was in the delegation.

Tel Aviv gives $5m worth of wheat to ‘new friend’

Sudan was the third Arab country this year to announce a deal with Israel, after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The Israel-Sudan pact has yet to be formally signed.

While Israel has hailed the accords as historic diplomatic agreements, the Palestinians have condemned them and urged Arab states to hold firm until Israel ends its occupation of Palestinian territory and agrees to the creation of a Palestinian state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in February in Uganda with Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council.

In August, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travelled on the first official direct flight from Tel Aviv to Khartoum.

The normalisation agreement came a year after the fall of president Omar al-Bashir’s regime and as the transitional authorities in Khartoum drew closer to the United States.

It followed on the heels of Sudan depositing $335 million in a special account to compensate survivors and relatives of victims of the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by Al Qaeda.

The attacks, which Bashir had welcomed, had killed more than 200 people.

After the money was deposited Trump formally moved to delist Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism.

On Nov 2, Pompeo said the United States would seek to end UN sanctions on Sudan over the conflict in Darfur as the new Khartoum government makes peace with former rebels.

That promise was another sign that the United States is eager to reward Sudan after it agreed to recognise Israel. Sudan has embarked on a rocky transition under a joint civilian-military administration since the April 2019 ouster of autocrat Bashir, turning the page on decades as an international pariah.

But it has struggled with severe economic woes, including a sharp depreciation of the Sudanese pound and skyrocketing consumer prices.

Two days after the announcement of normalisation Netanyahu’s office said that Israel was sending $5 million worth of wheat to Sudan.

“We are looking forward to a warm peace and are sending $5 million worth of wheat immediately to our new friends in Sudan,” Netanyahu’s office said on Twitter.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2020

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