Sudan PM Dashes US Hopes for Quick Normalization With Israel

Published August 26th, 2020 - 10:36 GMT
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) is welcomed by a Sudanese official in Khartoum on August 25, 2020. Pompeo is on an official visit to Sudan to urge more Arab countries to normalise ties with Israel, following the US-brokered Israel-UAE agreement. He is the first American top diplomat to visit Sudan since Condoleezza Rice went in 2005.  AFP
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) is welcomed by a Sudanese official in Khartoum on August 25, 2020. Pompeo is on an official visit to Sudan to urge more Arab countries to normalise ties with Israel, following the US-brokered Israel-UAE agreement. He is the first American top diplomat to visit Sudan since Condoleezza Rice went in 2005. AFP
Highlights
It “does not have a mandate beyond these tasks or to decide on normalization with Israel,” Hamdok was quoted as saying.

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has dashed America’s hopes for quick normalization with Israel, saying his government has no mandate to establish ties with Tel Aviv and any such a decision should wait until after the transitional period ends in the African country.

During talks in the capital Khartoum on Tuesday, Hamdok “clarified” to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the country’s transitional period “is being led by a wide alliance with a specific agenda — to complete the transition, achieve peace and stability in the country and hold free elections,” Sudanese government spokesman Faisal Saleh said in a statement. 

It “does not have a mandate beyond these tasks or to decide on normalization with Israel,” Hamdok was quoted as saying.

The Sudanese prime minister also reaffirmed the importance of separating normalization of ties from a US decision to remove Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, Saleh pointed out.

Sudan’s interim government took power last year after longtime leader Omar al-Bashir was overthrown by the army following mass popular protests. It is set to remain in office until elections in 2022.

Pompeo arrived in Khartoum on Tuesday to push for Sudan’s normalization with Israel, two weeks the US brokered a highly contentious peace deal between the regime and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Following the talks, the US State Department said in a statement that Pompeo and Hamdok discussed “positive developments in the Sudan-Israel relationship.”

Sudan that has no formal relations with Israel has been cozying up to the regime over the past year.

In February, Sudan’s leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the chairman of the ruling council in the country, met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in Uganda, sparking anger among politicians and public at home, where anti-Israel and pro-Palestine sentiments run high.

After the US announced the UAE-Israel deal, Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Haidar Badawi Sadiq said in an interview with Sky News Arabic that “there is no reason for the hostility to continue between Sudan and Israel,” in comments that drew Netanyahu’s praise and raised speculation that Khartoum may be the next in line to normalize with Tel Aviv.

The Sudanese official was, however, sacked shortly afterwards over “unauthorized” comments, with Sudanese Foreign Minister Omer Ismail saying that his ministry “didn’t discuss the possibility of relations with Israel in any way.”

Palestinians have derided the UAE’s decision to normalize with Israel as “backstabbing,” with President Mahmoud Abbas warning other Arab countries against following Abu Dhabi’s lead.

Pompeo in Bahrain to talk normalization

Pompeo visited the Israeli-occupied territories before arrival in Sudan.

Later on Tuesday, Pompeo left Sudan for Bahrain as part of a tour aimed at getting more Arab countries to follow in the UAE’s footsteps.

Palestinians have denounced the agreement as a “betrayal” of their cause.

Meanwhile, there are reports that an Israeli delegation and top aides to US President Donald Trump will fly together on board an Israeli airliner directly from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi on Monday for talks on cementing UAE-Israel normalization deal.

Netanyahu said in a video statement that White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, US Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz and other US officials will escort the Israeli delegation led by national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat.

A high-ranking US administration official confirmed the participation of Kushner, O’Brien and Berkowitz, and said former US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook would also be on the flight.

Talks will focus on ways to promote Israeli-UAE cooperation in various sectors, Netanyahu added.

This article has been adapted from its original source.     


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