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'We need Israel' says Sudan's top general as normalisation rumours abound

Mohammad Hamdan Dagalo, or Hemedti, said he is in favour of ties with Israel [AFP]

Date of publication: 3 October, 2020

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Sudan's deputy leader Mohammad Hamdan Dagalo said Khartoum was heading for 'relations, not normalisation' with Israel, without specifying what the difference would be.
Sudan's deputy head of state, General Mohammad Hamdan Dagalo, suggested on Friday that his country was inching closer to establishing ties with Israel.

"Israel is developed. The entire world works with Israel. For development, for agriculture - we need Israel," Dagalo, widely known as Hemedti, told Sudan24 TV in Juba.

However, the general emphasised that any relationship with Israel would not equate to full normalisation of ties.

"We're not scared of anyone. But these will be relations, not normalisation. Relations, not normalisation. Okay? We're following this line," Dagalo said, without explaining what the difference between relations and normalisation would be.

"These are relations from which we will benefit; this will be done with the consent and consultation of all parties," he added.

Dagalo also did not specify a timeframe along which any agreement would take place.

The US has been hinting it has been brokering an almost-finalised deal between Sudan and Israel to establish ties. 

The deputy leader highlighted Sudan's loyalty to the Palestinian cause as a reason not to fully normalise with the Jewish state.

"It's true, the Palestinian cause is important, and we ought to stand with the Palestinian people," Dagalo said, adding that Sudan was committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

However, he emphasised that Sudan would pursue its own interests, given the severe economic hardship the country is currently facing.

Washington has tied the issue of normalisation to that of Sudan's removal from the US State Sponsors of Terrorism list, a designation that has since the nineties exposed Khartoum to harmful sanctions and limited the country's access to international aid.

While all parties in the transitional government seek Sudan's removal from the terror sponsor list, reports indicate civilian factions within the government oppose normalisation with Israel.

Normalisation is also wildly unpopular among Sudan's religious groups and the wider population.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has previously stated that the current transitional government does not have a mandate to establish ties with Israel, and that any decision on the issue should wait until after the country holds democratic elections scheduled for 2022.

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