Sudan to normalize ties with Israel after US ultimatum – report
The decision was reportedly made after a heated discussion on Wednesday.
Sudanese protesters shout slogans and wave flags during a rally honouring fallen protesters at the Green Square in Khartoum, Sudan July 18, 2019
(photo credit: REUTERS/ MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH)
Sudan has reportedly decided to move forward with normalizing ties with Israel, after the US reportedly issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the country demanding that it recognize Israel in order to be removed from a US blacklist, a source close to Sudan’s leadership told i24News.
The decision was made after a heated discussion on Wednesday, according to the news station.
The ultimatum reportedly included an offer to remove Sudan from the list of states that sponsor terrorism, work to remove Sudan from a list of travel ban countries, work to increase aid to Sudan, commitment to facilitate private investment in Sudan, arranging an investment conference in Sudan and forgiveness of billions of dollars of Sudanese debt to the US, among other benefits, according to a Sudanese journalist.
In September, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said that the country does not want to link its removal from a US terrorism list, which is hindering access to foreign funding for the country’s economy, with a normalization of relations with Israel. However, Sudan’s leaders did not rule out establishing ties with Israel as part of a US offer of $300 million in economic aid, as well as $3 billion in debt relief and investments.
Earlier this month, deputy chairman of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo told TV station Sudania 24 that his country ascribes great importance to establishing ties with Israel so that it can be removed from the United States’ terror list.
“Establishing ties with Israel is a Sudanese interest,” Dagalo said, according to a report on the interview in Israel Hayom, adding that “our removal from the list of state sponsors of terror depends on it,” he added. The two issues have been linked, but apart from Dagalo, other officials in Sudan have sought to keep them separate.
Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terror harks back to the days of former ruler Omar al-Bashir. The country’s transitional government is hampered by its inability to access urgently needed debt relief and foreign financing.
Hamdok said Sudan had told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a visit last month that it was necessary to separate the issues.
In September, members of the Islamic Fiqh Academy in Sudan issued a fatwa (religious decree) prohibiting normalization with Israel.
In response, the head of the Fatwa Department at the Sudan Scholars Association, Sheikh Abdel-Rahman Hassan Hamed, published on Saturday another fatwa permitting normalization with Israel, in a video shared by the “Israel in Arabic” Twitter account, according to AlKhaleej Today, stressing that normalization is a legal issue, not a religious one.
Tovah Lazaroff, Lahav Harkov and Reuters contributed to this report.