Sudanese official hints at Khartoum reneging on Israel normalisation deal

Sudanese official hints at Khartoum reneging on Israel normalisation deal
Mohamed al-Faki Suleiman, a member of Sudan’s ruling council, said normalisation with Israel needed to be discussed again in the context of a “complete foreign policy”.
3 min read
18 February, 2021
Mohamed Alfaki Suleiman hinted that Sudan may suspend normalisation of ties with Israel [Twitter]

An official in Sudan's transitional government has suggested Khartoum may renege on its US-brokered deal to normalise ties with Israel.

Mohamed al-Faki Suleiman, a member of Sudan's Sovereignty Council, told Anadolu Agency that his country's normalisation of relations with Israel "needed to be discussed again".

The administration of former US President Donald Trump brokered a series of normalisation agreements between Israel and several Arab states in 2020, exerting heavy political and economic pressure on Sudan to agree to establish ties with Israel.

Public opinion in Sudan and other Arab countries is overwhelmingly opposed to normalisation of ties with Israel, which continues to occupy the West Bank and besiege the Gaza Strip, denying Palestinians the right to self-determination.

According to an opinion poll last October, 79 percent of Sudanese people were opposed to their country recognising Israel. Political parties and professional associations – including those in the governing coalition – decried the normalisation deal as illegitimate.

Suleiman alluded to conversations in Sudanese political circles about a "complete foreign policy" based on the country's interests, in his comments to Anadolu.

He said the issue would be discussed again "along the same lines we did before with major breakthroughs taking place".

Last week, Sudan's Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdok announced a new cabinet after dissolving the previous one to make way from a more inclusive lineup in government.

He also said the government would create a transitional legislative assembly later this month, which officials previously said would have the final say on any agreement with Israel.

Read more: Sudan announces new cabinet with ex-rebels as ministers

Hamdok named as foreign minister Mariam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, daughter of Sudan's last democratically elected prime minister, Sadiq al-Mahdi, who died in November from a coronavirus infection.

The late leader of the country's largest political party had cried foul of moves to normalise with Israel, calling it "treason" and unlawful.

Since 2019, Sudan has been ruled by a transitional civilian-military ruling council led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, which was installed after protests toppled Islamist strongman Omar al-Bashir.

Last month, al-Burhan welcomed Israeli intelligence minister Eli Cohen to Khartoum.

The Sudanese leader told Cohen that Khartoum was ready to formally sign the normalisation deal with Israel but sought formal endorsement from the new Biden administration.

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

While Biden and his aides have expressed support for normalisation, the Israeli-Sudanese agreement has seen many delays.

Negotiations over Sudan's removal from the US's State Sponsors of Terrorism list and its future liability in US courts took months to resolve.

Khartoum still has to repeal its Israel boycott law and a law forbidding Sudanese nationals from travelling to Israel before officially endorsing its normalisation agreement.

Israeli media last month reported that talks were underway to repeal the boycott law, but a top official on the sovereign council later denied the reports.

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

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