Israel-Sudan reportedly discuss normalization

An Israeli delegation made an unannounced visit to Sudan yesterday to discuss the normalization of ties, according to reports on Israel’s public Kan radio station.

The possibility that diplomatic ties could be forged between the two countries has been in the headlines in recent weeks, driven by the United States plan for regional peace.

Kan radio provided no further details about the discussions held in Khartoum; and neither the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would comment on the matter.

Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen, however, told the local Channel 13 station that he believed Israel is “very close to normalizing ties with Sudan.”

Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis hinted that the United States will imminently announce the establishment of ties between Israel and an Arab or Muslim country. “I have a reasonable basis to believe that the announcement will come before November 3rd – that, if you’ll permit me, is what I understand from my sources,” Akunis told Israel’s Army Radio.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman commented that, “more nations that are in the Arab League will normalise and make peace with Israel – I have no doubt, it is a certainty.” The U.S. diplomat made the remarks at a conference hosted by the Kohelet Policy Forum think-tank and the Israel Hayom newspaper, adding somewhat vaguely, “How many, in what order, I think everyone is just going to have to wait and see.”

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced Sudan would be taken off the terrorism list after it transferred $355 million to compensate U.S. victims of terror, and their families. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday that Washington has already begun the process of delisting Sudan, and that the Trump Administration is heavily engaged in convincing Khartoum to recognize the Jewish State. “We are working diligently with them to make the case for why that’s in the Sudanese government’s best interest to make that sovereign decision,” said the top American diplomat, adding, “We hope that they’ll do that quickly.”

Pompeo stopped short of saying removal from the U.S. blacklist is directly linked to Sudan’s agreement to normalize relations with Israel, and Sudanese sources have not indicated so far that any talks on the issue have been advanced. Military figures leading Sudan’s transitional government have appeared open to normalization, but left-wing and Islamist politicians are more reluctant. Reuters cited U.S. officials of having states that the two matters could be interrelated, following similar U.S.-brokered moves by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Rapprochement between Israel and another Arab country would give Trump a new diplomatic achievement as he seeks re-election in the 3 November U.S. elections. The U.S. leader was the first to announce the Israel-UAE pact in August. Earlier this week, top White House envoys escorted Israeli delegates to Bahrain and officials from the United Arab Emirates to Israel to further officiate the Abraham Accords.