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Sudan wants to sign Israel normalisation deal at the White House: report

Sudanese demonstrations have condemned the normalisation agreement [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 January, 2021

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A number of obstacles have kept Sudan from officially signing the US-brokered agreement with Israel.
Sudan has held off signing an official agreement to normalise ties with Israel in the hope of a taking part in a White House ceremony to ratify the deal, Axios reported.

Khartoum agreed to establish relations with Israel last year as part of a Trump administration push in Arab and Muslim-majority nations.

A draft agreement sent by Israel to Sudan has yet to be signed, Israeli officials told Axios.

The Sudanese would prefer to officialise the normalisation deal at a high-profile White House ceremony, the officials said.

The issue was discussed earlier this week in a Khartoum meeting between the head of Sudan's sovereign transitional council and Eli Cohen, Israel's intelligence chief.

Cohen told General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan that Israel would not proceed with any shared projects or other forms of cooperation until the agreement was formally signed.

Sudan is ready to proceed with the normalisation agreement but seeks its formal endorsement from the new Biden administration, Burhan told Cohen.

Sudan's Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari reportedly signed a deal with former US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, which gave Khartoum access to "$1 billion in funding", although this was without a ceremony.

The Trump administration had floated a January ceremony to formalise the deal but the plans were derailed amid political turmoil over the White House transition.

"There is no rush," one Israeli official told Axios.

"We think it is a good idea to sign this agreement in Washington with the support of the Biden administration. It is important for the Sudanese, and it will strengthen the agreement," the official added.

President Joe Biden and aides have expressed support for the Abraham Accords, the set of normalisation agreements between Israel and Arab nations brokered by the Trump administration.

Normalisation deal faces hurdles in Sudan

The Israeli-Sudanese agreement has seen far more delays than the accords with the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, however.

Negotiations over Sudan's removal from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list and its future liability in US courts took months to resolve.
Read more: What will Bidens presidency mean for the Horn of Africa?

Khartoum still has two stipulations to fulfill before officially signing on to the agreement.

Sudan is required to repeal the Israel boycott law, which bans trade with Israeli entities, and another law that forbids Sudanese nationals from traveling to Israel.

Israeli media reported last week that talks were underway to repeal the boycott law, but a senior official on the sovereign council later rejected the claims.

The repeal of those laws is likely to cause further controversy in Sudan, which has witnessed protests against the transitional government's opening to Israel.

Opposition parties and Muslim clerics have also voiced their opposition to a normalisation agreement.

Most Arab and Muslim-majority nations have historically refrained from economic, cultural and diplomatic ties with Israel out of solidarity with the Palestinain cause.

Some Sudanese activists have also expressed oppositon to a normalisation agreement on the basis that it is undemocratic.

Sudan still lacks a working parliament as promised under a 2019 transitional agreement following the ousting of former President Omar Al-Bashir.

Officials have previously stated that the transitional legislature would have the final say on any normalisation agreement.


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