Israel and Sudan have agreed to normalise relations. An agreement was clinched during a secret visit to Khartoum by Israel’s foreign minister Eli Cohen on Thursday, but a treaty will only be signed after the formation of a civilian government in Sudan, expected in the coming months.
“Today’s visit to Sudan lays the foundations for a historic peace agreement with a strategic Arab and Muslim country,” Mr Cohen said on his return. “The peace agreement between Israel and Sudan will promote regional stability and contribute to the national security of Israel. Signing a peace agreement will provide an opening for the establishment of relations with other nations on the African continent and the strengthening of existing ties with the continent’s countries,” he added.
Sudan is one of four countries that agreed to normalise ties with Israel under the US-brokered Abraham Accords of 2020. But Sudan never completed the process and has lagged behind the other three – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco – in strengthening ties with Israel.
Sudan, which is strategically located on the shores of the Red Sea, in the past was openly hostile towards Israel and shortly after the 1967 Six-Day War in 1967, Khartoum hosted an Arab League conference which formalised Arab rejectionism of Israel, adopting the Three Nos formula – no recognition, no peace and no negotiations.
Between 2009 and 2014 a number of air strikes in Sudan targeting arms warehouses and convoys of trucks suspected of carrying weapons for Hamas were attributed to Israel.
Speaking at a press conference after returning from Khartoum, Mr Cohen said that establishing a civilian government was a clear-cut interest of the military regime in Khartoum because it would open doors to Western countries, including the United States and Israel.
The Sudanese government said Thursday’s meeting “was aimed at establishing productive relations with Israel and strengthening the horizons of joint co-operation in the fields of agriculture, energy, health, water and education, and especially in the security and military spheres.”
The Sudanese statement also urged Israel “to establish stability between Israel and the Palestinian people”.
Israel also hopes Sudan will be willing to accept the repatriation of thousands of Sudanese migrants who entered Israel illegally via the Egyptian Sinai in recent years.
In another move strengthening ties between Israel and Africa, Chad opened an embassy on Thursday in Ramat Gan, close to Tel Aviv, in a ceremony attended by the country’s president Mahamat Déby and Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
“This is a historical moment that continues years of contacts during which I also visited Chad,” Mr Netanyahu said. “We strengthen our friendship in the areas of security for peace and prosperity.”