Israel finalises 'historic peace agreement' with Sudan

Khartoum banned relations with Israel in the 1950s but agreed to work toward ties in 2020


Israel has formalised the text of a normalisation agreement with Sudan.

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen announced the progress on Thursday night after he returned from a shock trip to Khartoum to hold talks.

Addressing a press conference at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport yesterday, Mr Eli Cohen said the two parties had “finalised the text of the agreement,” he met with ruling General Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan.

“Today’s visit to Sudan lays the foundations for a historic peace agreement with a strategic Arab and Muslim country,” Mr Cohen told reporters.

“The peace agreement between Israel and Sudan will promote regional stability and contribute to the national security of the State of Israel.”

He said any official signing ceremony is likely to be postponed until Sudan is once again under a civilian government. While Israel’s Foreign Ministry has hinted this could take place in Washington within months, this is far from certain.

Sudan has been under military rule since its October 2021 coup led by army chief Burhan but claims it will hand over the administration to a civilian government.

However the ruling coup’s second-in-command, powerful paramilitary leader General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo told state media that he was unaware of the Israeli delegation’s visit and did not meet with any Israeli officials. 

Meanwhile, three anonymous Sudanese military officials told The Associated Press prior to Thursday evening's announcement in Israel that full normalisation would not be achieved between Sudan and Israel "any time soon".

While Sudan remains economically and politically unstable, a breakthrough with the Northeast African state would be of huge symbolic importance, given its decades of hostility with the Jewish state.

In 1967 Khartoum hosted the 1967 Arab League conference at which eight Arab states green-lighted the “three no’s”: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with it.

It is also though the country's military rulers believe ties with Israel could help encourage American and UAE investment, and sanitise its image on the world stage following decades of controversies and terror links.

Sudan's move toward civilian administration has stalled due to a deadlock in talks between the powerful armed forces and pro-democracy groups. 

The 2021 coup came after longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir, who routinely supplied militants in the Gaza Strip with arms, was ousted from office in 2019.

Al-Bashir and his regime were responsible for a variety of human rights violations, including ethnic genocide that occurred as a result of its actions in the War in the Darfur region that began in 2003.

It is speculated that Israel was responsible for airstrikes on a Sudanese weapons convoy in 2009 and a weapons factory in 2012.

As part of 2020’s series of US-brokered normalisation deals between the Jewish State and Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco, Sudan formally agreed to work toward establishing relations with Israel. 

While Sudan maintained active trade relations with Israel before its independence from the United Kingdom and Egypt in 1956, the states have never had formal ties. Until April 2021 it upheld a 1958 law that forbade establishing ties with Israel and outlawed business with all Israeli citizens and companies or companies with Israeli interests. 

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