Sudan on Friday become the third Arab country to normalise ties with Israel this year, following in the footsteps of its Gulf allies the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and creating huge splits among Sudan’s political class and its people.
Announcement of the normalisation came after Washington had removed Khartoum from the State Department’s State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST) list, imposed under the rule of the deposed president Omar Al-Bashir.
The agreement had been sealed in a phone call between US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and the chairman of Sudan’s transitional Sovereignty Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, senior US officials said.
It had been speculated that Sudan could make a deal with Israel in exchange for removal from the US terror designation and the major boost for the struggling Sudanese economy from US financial aid that would follow. However, Trump on Monday had said that Khartoum’s removal would take place in exchange for a $335m payment to “US terror victims and families”.
In a post to Twitter, the Sovereignty Council said the SST delisting marked “a historic day for Sudan and its glorious revolution”. It did not immediately comment on its diplomatic agreement with Israel.
Netanyahu welcomed the agreement with Sudan and what he called a rapidly expanding “circle of peace” and the start of a “new era”.
Anger on the streets
On the streets of Khartoum, reactions were not quite as positive.
Nazar Ahmed, 23, a member of the revolutionary committee in the city’s Elgiraif district, told Middle East Eye that the conditions laid down by the US were “humiliating to the Sudanese revolutionists and the acceptance of Sudan’s government was shameful”.
Meanwhile, Hiba Osman, 21, from Khartoum, told MEE: “We have to look to the countries that normalised its ties with Israel and what benefits they got. Normalisation with Israel is a big illusion sold by Trump to our government.”
Speaking in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Palestine Liberation Organisation official Wasel Abu Youssef said that the decision “will not shake the Palestinians’ faith in their cause and in continuing their struggle”.
“Sudan’s joining others who normalised ties with the state of the Israeli occupation represents a new stab in the back of the Palestinian people and a betrayal of the just Palestinian cause,” he said.
Khartoum, meanwhile, insisted that the deal was still provisional and needed the approval of the country’s transitional parliament, led by Burhan.