Sudan to normalise ties with Israel this weekend: officials
Khartoum will make the announcement this weekend, after Sudan's top general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, discusses the projected timeline with US President Donald Trump, the Israeli daily reported.
A rare direct flight from Israel to Sudan on Wednesday brought a high-level Israeli delegation to Khartoum to hold meetings with the transitional government, Reuters reported.
It is believed the delegations reached a bilateral recognition agreement, Israel Hayom reported.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reportedly called away from a cabinet meeting on coronavirus at the same time on Wednesday afternoon due to "urgent national needs".
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday he hoped Sudan will soon recognise Israel as Washington moved to remove the Arab country as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Pompeo said that the United States wanted every nation "to recognise Israel, the rightful Jewish homeland, to acknowledge their fundamental right to exist as a country".
"We are working diligently with them to make the case for why that's in the Sudanese government's best interest to make that sovereign decision," Pompeo told reporters.
"We hope that they'll do that, and we hope that they'll do that quickly."
Israeli media reports also claimed Sudan was due to sign a peace agreement with Israel earlier this week, after US President Donald Trump announced he was ready to remove Sudan from a Washington blacklist.
Israel's Channel 7 reported Tuesday that Khartoum's normalisation with Israel was expected in just a few days, shortly after Trump announced that the US would remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, a major goal of the year-old civilian-backed government.
The Trump administration has leaned on Sudan to normalise relations with Israel, following the lead last month of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
With US elections in two weeks, another landmark Arab normalisation deal would be hailed by Trump's evangelical Christian base, which staunchly backs Israel.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the issue on his August tour - the first such visit to Khartoum by a top US diplomat in 15 years.
But Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok demurred on the controversial step, saying the transitional government did not have authority to normalise ties with Israel.
General Al-Burhan, in February held a landmark meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda.
Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, the council's vice-president and a paramilitary commander, has been blunt in his support.
"Israel is a developed country... for our development, we need Israel," he said.
On 13 August, Israel and the UAE announced they would normalise relations, with Bahrain soon following suit.
The agreements, dubbed the Abraham Accords, were signed in the White House on 15 September, with US President Donald Trump suggesting other Arab states would quickly follow suit.
Since then, speculation has pointed to a handful of other Arab countries, with Oman and Sudan as the most likely candidates.
Read also: Sudanese businessman organises 'ice-breaker' Israel trip
The Palestinians have been vocal in their opposition to the agreements, arguing that such decisions remove any incentive for Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Forging ties of any sort with Israel is highly controversial in much of the Arab and Islamic world.
Sudan's leading Islamic religious authority has already declared normalisation with Israel impermissible in Islam amid pressure on Khartoum to go ahead with the move.
The Islamic Fiqh Council in Sudan said that normalisation of any kind would constitute supporting oppression and aiding sin and was thus strictly outlawed in Islam.
Read more: Normalisation deal with Netanyahu would betray Palestinians, along with Sudan's refugees in Israel
The Islamic Fiqh Council, seen as the leading authority for issuing fatwas, or religious edicts, is a governmental body that includes representatives appointed by the prime minister.