Sudan Seeks Normalization with Israel, Applauds United Arab Emirates Treaty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a joint press conference with Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem on May 8, 2012. Netanyahu struck a surprise deal with the opposition Kadima party to form a national unity government, axing plans for a snap election. …
GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty

The foreign ministry of Sudan on Tuesday confirmed rumors that the country is seeking a peace treaty with Israel similar to the one announced last week by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Jerusalem Post quoted the remarks from Sudan and an approving response from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

The Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesperson told Sky News Arabia that Sudan looks forward to a peace agreement with Israel. His words followed the announcement last week of a pending peace deal between the Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

“There is no reason for the continuation of hostility between Sudan and Israel,” the spokesman said. “We do not deny the existence of contacts between the two countries.”

Both Israel and Sudan would benefit from such an agreement, the spokesman said.

Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately responded, saying: “Israel, Sudan, and the entire region will benefit from the peace agreement and together they can build a better future for all the peoples of the region. We will do everything necessary to make this vision a reality.”

“People are tired of extremism, people want to see a better future. I think that soon more countries will sign a peace agreement and eventually the Palestinians will as well,” Netanyahu predicted on Tuesday.

Israel’s Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen hinted on Sunday that a normalization agreement with Sudan was “coming soon.”

“This historical agreement may be signed before the new year,” Cohen said.

Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabi Ashkenazi said the Sudanese announcement “highlights the fundamental change that is taking place in the Middle East in general, and in Sudan in particular, 53 years after the Khartoum Conference in which Sudan called for no recognition of the State of Israel.”

Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Haidar Badaw Sadiq said his country saw no reason for continuing hostility with Israel, and praised the UAE for bravely leading the way toward peace between Israel and the Arab world.

“Israel and Sudan will both benefit from a peace agreement. We will form an agreement without sacrificing our values and principles,” said Sadiq.

The Trump White House predicted last week that more Arab nations would soon normalize relations with Israel, specifically indicating Oman and Bahrain as nations that would follow the UAE’s example. Cohen predicted on Monday that Bahrain and Sudan would be the next to seek normalization, making an accurate forecast in the latter case.

An early indication of progress came in February, when Sudan granted overflight permission to Israeli commercial aircraft. Netanyahu said the two nations began “discussing rapid normalization” after the first Israeli plane flew over Sudan. The Sudanese were not quite as outspokenly enthusiastic at the time, although they did credit the United Arab Emirates for helping broker the overflight agreement, and mentioned Sudan’s ultimate goal of getting removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

In his upbeat comments on Tuesday, Netanyahu praised the courage of Sudan’s Lt. General Abdel Fatah Abdeirahman al-Burhan, chair of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council. Netanyahu and Burhan met in Uganda in February to work out the terms of the overflight deal.

All of these peace accords will take some time to formalize. The Israelis indicated on Tuesday they would give Sudan ample time to develop its side of the proposed normalization agreement. Yossi Cohen, the director of Israel’s Mossad security agency, is currently in the UAE working out the details of Israel’s agreement with that country, and a larger Israeli delegation is expected in Abu Dhabi later this week.

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