Media reports strongly indicate that Israel and Sudan will reach a final agreement to normalise ties within the next few days.
According to Israeli media, the deal has been brokered by the U.S. deal after a high-level Israeli-U.S. delegation travelled to Sudan on Wednesday for covert negotiations on the normalisation of ties between Khartoum and Tel Aviv.
According to Israel Hayom, the Wednesday trip in a business jet — which made a direct flight from Tel Aviv to Khartoum and back — saw officials from the Mossad intelligence agency and Prime Minister’s Office visit Sudan for talks.
Talks between the U.S., Israel and Sudan reportedly continued on Thursday.
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped Sudan would soon recognise Israel, as Washington moved to strike the Arab country from a list of state sponsors of terrorism. This would pave the way for financial sanctions to be removed from impoverished Sudan.
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.”
Sudan was designated a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 after then-leader Omar al-Bashir welcomed Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.
To exit the blacklist, which has severely impeded investment, the cash-strapped nation agreed to pay $335 million to survivors and victims’ families from Al-Qaeda twin bombings in 1998 of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Sudan is currently ruled by a fragile transitional Sovereignty Council run by Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, who has reportedly been generally supportive of ties with Israel. His civilian counterpart, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, however, has been far more hesitant.
Al-Burhan is scheduled to hand over control of the Sovereignty Council to Hamdok in 2022.
The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have both normalised relations with Israel in recent weeks.
Sudanese analyst Ahmed Kaballo told 5Pillars that Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been putting heavy pressure on Sudan to recognise Israel.
He said: “The military part of the Transitional Government has been putting pressure on Prime Minister Hamdok to recognise Israel but he was resisting saying that the state sponsor of terrorism designation had nothing to do with Israel. But it seems he has sold out his principles to make a pragmatic economic decision.
“I think the Sudanese people – who are obviously pro-Palestine – will be in uproar over this so I will expect angry demonstrations at least. People are frustrated as there has been no real change since the revolution and the military, which has blood on its hands, is still in power. So this is just adding insult to injury.”