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Calls for Normalization with Israel may Signal Sea Change in Sudan

JAFFA, Israel – Several participants in Sudan’s National Dialogue Conference, underway since last October, have raised the possibility of normalizing relations with Israel, an issue that has been taboo in the country until recently, the London-based A-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper reported on Saturday.

The Independent Party, which initially raised the idea, said it would greatly improve the country’s relationship with the United States.

The idea was not dismissed outright by Foreign Minister Ibrahim Gandour, who said the government should consider it, leading A-Sharq al-Awsat to conclude that new winds may be blowing in Sudan.

The paper reported that prominent columnist Abdullah Rizeq wrote in the Elwatan newspaper that government officials have long sought to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. He quoted a regional governor, who is a member of the ruling National Party, chairman of the industry committee in parliament, and governor of the White Nile region, saying, “If we accepted relations with America, let’s have Israel as well.”

Parliament Member Sharif Muhamadein also suggested during a parliament discussion that relations with Israel should be normalized.

“Every Arab country maintains relations with Israel, whether overt or covert,” he said, adding that having Israel as an ally could solve problems for Sudan.

The semi-governmental Al Shourouq TV reported that a “discussion was held, under German auspices, between Israeli and Sudanese intellectuals in an attempt to explore how relations between the countries could be normalized and a historic compromise reached,” the paper said.

Many Sudanese believe that the battle against the Islamic State takes precedence over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the paper noted, and “the fact that the Islamist President Omar al-Bashir and the Islamist leader Hassan Elturabi met with the exiled human rights activist Taraji Mustafa – who founded the Israeli-Sudanese Friendship League – suggests that the Sudanese government sees the prospect of normalized relations with Israel favorably.”

The paper also reported that Mustafa highlighted the fact that thousands of Sudanese people chose to live in Israel, “those who were able to avoid the cruelty of the Egyptian border patrols towards Sudanese refugees.”

 

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