TEL AVIV – Israel and the Muslim-Arab country of Sudan will begin normalizing ties, Israeli officials said after leaders of both countries met in Uganda, in a move that has been denounced as a “stab in the back” by the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met secretly in Entebbe, Uganda, with Sudanese leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Monday.
“It was agreed to start cooperation leading to normalization of the relationship between the two countries,” an Israeli statement said.
The meeting came days after Sudan joined the Arab League in rejecting President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled Middle East peace plan.
“This meeting is a stab in the back of the Palestinian people and a stark departure from the Arab Peace Initiative at a time when the administration of President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu are trying to liquidate the Palestinian cause,” senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat told the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency WAFA.
“We agreed to begin cooperation that will lead to normalization of relations between the two countries,” Netanyahu tweeted. “History!”
נפגשתי באנטבה עם יו"ר מועצת הריבונות של סודן, עבד אלפתח אלברהאן, והסכמנו להתחיל שיתוף פעולה שיוביל לנורמליזציה של היחסים בין שתי המדינות. היסטוריה!
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) February 3, 2020
The Saudi-led 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, endorsed by the Arab League, calls for normalization between Israel and Arab countries on the condition of Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem and arriving at a settlement for the so-called “right of return” for Palestinian refugee and their descendants into Israel.
Trump’s plan, entitled “Vision for Peace” and roundly rejected by the Palestinians, would see the establishment of a contiguous but demilitarized Palestinian state on most of the West Bank with parts of eastern Jerusalem that are outside the Israeli security fence as its capital.
Jerusalem would remain undivided and under Israeli control.
Israel would be allowed to annex all Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jordan Valley.
Erekat also denounced Uganda’s announcement that it would weigh the possibility of opening an embassy in Jerusalem.
At their meeting Monday, Netanyahu told Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, “You open an embassy in Jerusalem, I’ll open an embassy in Kampala. And we hope to do this in the near future.”
Sudan and Israel are erstwhile enemies, with Khartoum being the backdrop to the infamous “Three No’s” issued by the Arab League during its summit in the Sudanese capital in 1967. Arab states at the time agreed that there would be “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with it.”
Until recently, Sudan was considered by Israel to be a security threat over Iran’s suspected use of the country to smuggle arms into the Gaza Strip. However, Khartoum has distanced itself from Iran over its involvement in Yemen and that, together with the ouster last year of country’s longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir, means that the threat no longer exists.