Israel and Sudan set the stage for normalizing relations

President Yoweri Museveni and Israeli PM Netanyahu agreed on direct flights between Tel Aviv and Kampala

President Yoweri Museveni and Israeli PM Netanyahu agreed on direct flights between Tel Aviv and Kampala

But as Sudan struggles to move forward almost a year after an uprising that toppled the 30-year regime of Omar al-Bashir, was the meeting more about practical economic considerations than a seismic diplomatic shift?

The remark comes amid a visit by Netanyahu to the country's capital, where Netanyahu also met with Sudan's transitional leader, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who announced that the two leaders agreed to gradually normalize ties.

Atlantic Council senior fellow and former United States diplomat Cameron Hudson told MEE he believed the Trump administration was behind the meeting.

The US in December lifted fast-changing Sudan from a blacklist for religious freedoms violations, but still labels it a state sponsor of terrorism.

Sudan's sovereign council, a transitional body of civilians and military officials led by Burhan, also held a meeting on Tuesday where the issue was being discussed, a source told AFP.

Burhan's visit and any normalization of ties with Israel would likely be controversial with many in Sudan and elsewhere in the Arab world, especially at a time when Netanyahu has been promoting a new USA peace plan that Palestinians have flatly rejected.

The document stipulated that Arab countries, including Egypt, Jordan and Sudan, would jointly oppose Israel, stating: "No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it". It said Netanyahu "believes that Sudan is moving in a new and positive direction, and the prime minister expressed his views to the U.S. Secretary of State".

"This meeting is a stab in the back of the Palestinian people.at a time when the [US] administration of President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu are trying to liquidate the Palestinian cause", Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said in a statement carried on official news agency WAFA.

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"We agreed to begin cooperation that will lead to normalization of relations between the two countries", Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu's meeting with Gen. Burhan, according to Netanyahu's office, came at the invitation of Uganda. Chad, Sudan's neighbor, has also restored diplomatic relations with Israel in 2019.

The statement further noted that Pompeo had invited Burhan to Washington, DC to meet with him later in the year.

In Sudan, the move met condemnation from the Communist Party, a prominent former member of Bashir's National Congress Party and other Islamist factions.

Information Minister Faisal Saleh said the government hadn't been notified or consulted and would seek clarification.

It was created as part of a power-sharing agreement between the military and civilians following the overthrow of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir past year. No government of Muslim-majority Sudan since independence in 1956 has officially recognized Israel.

Sudan, an African country that has openly resisted Israel for decades, has undergone significant political change since the ouster of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir on the heels of popular protests past year.

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