Rumours of Israeli private jet landing in Sudan adds fuel to normalisation controversy

Rumours of Israeli private jet landing in Sudan adds fuel to normalisation controversy
Sudan's military has denied rumours of an Israeli jet landing in Khartoum despite controversial moves to normalise ties between the two countries earlier this year.
3 min read
27 May, 2020
A meeting between Sudanese and Israeli leaders sparked protests earlier this year [Getty]
Reports of an Israeli private jet landing in Khartoum have fuelled anger over moves to normalise ties between Sudan and Israel.

Sudanese army spokesman Brigadier General Amer Mohammad Al-Hassan on Tuesday denied the that an Israeli jet had landed in the capital.

Al-Hassan told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site that the Khartoum International Airport was shuttered to all traffic apart from humanitarian aid flights and that the only fiight to arrive in the capital on Tuesday - the day the alleged Israeli jet landed - was a Turkish aid shipment.

Rumours of the Israeli jet first emerged on Tuesday after Israeli journalist Simon Aran shared a screenshot from the Flight Radar website, showing the flight path of a Hawker 800XP H25B model jet.

The flight is pictured departing from Tel Aviv in Israel and flying across Egypt to arrive in Khartoum. The New Arab could not verify the authenticity of the image.

Itay Blumental, a reporter for Israel'syYnet, added that the jet's registration number was N84UP - a private jet available to rent from Israel's Private FLITE Charters based out of Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport.

In February, an Israeli jet flew over Sudan for the first time. The flight came a week after Hassan said Israel and Sudan had agreed "on principle" for Israeli commerical aircraft to travel across Sudanese airspace en route to South America.

Read more: Power and politics: Israel makes new inroads into Africa

Tuesday's alleged flight comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wished the chief of Sudan's Sovereign Council a happy Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Moves to normalise ties between the two countries - formally at war - prompted protest earlier this year.

Sudan has long been part of a decades-old Arab boycott of Israel over its occupation of Palestinian lands.

In the wake of the 1967 war in which Israel occupied the West Bank and seized the Golan Heights from Syria, Arab leaders held a historic meeting in Khartoum to announce what became known as the 'three nos' - no peace, no recognition, no negotiations with Israel.

That all changed in early February, when Sovereign Council leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan flew to Uganda to meet with the Israeli premier.

"It has been agreed to start a cooperation that will lead to normalising the ties between the countries," Netanyahu's official said after the meeting.

While Sudanese government officials said Burhan "did not give a promise of normalising or having diplomatic relations" with Israel, the meeting was soon followed by the first Israeli flight across Sudanese airspace.

Instead, the unprecedented meeting was held to "protect the national security" of Sudan, Burhan claimed.

Israel has a key role to play in realising Khartoum's much-desired removal from Washington's State Sponsors of Terrorism blacklist, the military leader said.

The United States placed Sudan on the list in the early 1990's over the former regime's hosting of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

Sudan was accused of aiding the extremist group and later sued by victims of two major al-Qaeda attacks.

US officials have expressed sympathy over the terror designation which prevents Sudan from access to much international aid, but have stressed that its removal from the list is a legal process that takes time.

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