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Sudan 'given 24 hours' to normalise ties with Israel

Talk of normalisation has prompted protests in Sudan this year [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 October, 2020

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Washington has reportedly given Khartoum until the end of Thursday to agree to establish diplomatic relations with Israel or face continued sanctions.
Under mounting pressure from Washington in recent weeks, Sudan has been given just 24 hours to agree to normalise ties with Israel, according to local media reports.

The US reportely issued its final offer to Khartoum on Wednesday, hoping to make Sudan the latest Arab state to establish diplomatic relations with Israel this year in return for the nixing of sanctions and a limited aid package.

The claims, widely reported in Sudanese and Arab media, were confirmed by a source close to Sudan's transitional sovereign council.

Speaking to The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site, the highly placed source denied a report published by Israeli news site i24 News that Sudanese General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan intends to accept the offer. Burhan heads the transitional sovereign council.

The council will not discuss normalising ties with Israel in a meeting scheduled to take place on Thursday, the source added.

Sudanese and American officials met in Abu Dhabi last month to discuss establishing diplomatic relations between Khartoum and Israel.

The meetings ended without an agreement but reports indicate discussions have continued behind closed doors.
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The latest proposal reported by Sudanese media would see Washington remove Khartoum from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, a designation that exposes Sudan to sanctions and limited its access to international aid.

Sudan was placed on the list in the early '90s when former dictator Omar Al-Bashir hosted Osama bin Laden and other Al-Qaeda members. US prosecutors have since deemed Sudan responsible for several major Al-Qaeda attacks.

Wednesday's proposal would also see Sudan offered several economic incentives for normalising ties with Israel, including the shipment of wheat, food and medicine worth nearly $600 million.

The US has also reportedly agreed to cancel $3 billion worth of debt owed by Sudan, as well as to mobilise Western allies to provide debt relief and investment to Khartoum.

Read more: Normalisation deal with Netanyahu would betray Palestinians, along with Sudan's refugees in Israel

Washington would also discuss lifting a ban imposed earlier this year on Sudanese nationals applying for the US diversity visa lottery, according to The Sudan Tribune.

American and Israeli negotiators have insisted both the military and civilian sides of Sudan's transitional government agree to the deal.

Past reports indicate that, while military leaders like Burhan are warm to the idea of normalising ties with Israel, civilian politicians such as Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok oppose the controversial move.

Prime Minister Hamdok has previously stated that the transitional government has no mandate to act on normalisation and that such a move should wait until after the country holds democratic elections scheduled to take place in 2022.

Former President Omar Al-Bashir was ousted by the military following months of popular protests in April last year. 

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