Israel's Netanyahu to meet Sudan general in Uganda: report

Israel's Netanyahu to meet Sudan general in Uganda amid normalisation speculation: report
3 min read
24 September, 2020
The Israeli premier will meet with Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the leader of Sudan's transitional sovereign council, in Uganda for a second time, Israeli media report.
Sudanese General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan met with Netanyahu earlier this year [Getty]
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will soon meet with Sudan's top military leader amid increasing speculation that Israel is set to normalise ties with Khartoum, i24NEWS reported.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the leader of Sudan's transitional sovereign council, is "likely to meet in the coming days" with Netanyahu in Uganda in what would be the second such meeting this year, Sudanese sources told the Israeli news site.

The meeting would come hot on the heels of talks between Sudanese and American officials in Washington aimed at persuading Khartoum to establish diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv.

The Trump administration is currently pushing for further Arab nations to normalise ties with Israel - historically ostracised in the region due to its occupation of Palestinian lands - an effort that has so far proved successful with Bahrain and the UAE.

In return, Sudanese officials hope Khartoum will be removed from the United States' State Sponsors of Terrorism list. The designation, in place since the 1990s, exposes Sudan to harmful sanctions and limits the amount of international aid available to the country, amidst a spiralling economic crisis. 

Despite the Washington talks concluding on Tuesday without an agreement, a Sudanese-Israeli Friendship Asssociation will be inaugurated in Khartoum on Saturday, i24NEWS reported.

The ceremony will mark the launch of a normalisation process between the two countries, sources close to the sovereign council said.

If true, the move is likely to create uproar in Sudan and across the Arab world, where the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel is highly controversial.

In February, General Burhan travelled to Uganda to meet with Netanyahu in a secretive visit that was not announced until later.

A statement from the Israeli premier's office declared that the two countries had agreed to work towards the normalisation of ties but Sudanese officials denied any such agreement.

The issue returned to the fore last month after Washington brokered a peace agreement between the UAE and Israel, with a Sudanese foreign ministry spokesperson stating Khartoum was in talks towards its own such agreement. The spokesman was later fired.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok rebutted that the transitional regime had no mandate to make such an agreement and that any future normalisation process would be heralded by an elected government. The sacked spokesman insisted secret talks were underway, however.

Rumours of an incoming agreement between Sudan and Israel have also been stoked by Washington's ambassador to the United Nations.

Another normalisation deal between Israel and an Arab state will be announced "in the next day or two", Ambassador Kelly Craft said on Tuesday.

"We are very excited and know that others are going to be following," Craft told Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya. 

"Obviously, we would welcome for Saudi Arabia to be next," she added.

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