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Israel and Sudan reach milestone after historic summit

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Israel and Sudan reach milestone after historic summit

“We agreed to begin cooperation that will lead to normalization of relations between the two countries,” Netanyahu tweets after meeting Sudanese leader.

by Associated Press , Israel Hayom Staff, February 3, 2020:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the leader of Sudan on Monday and said they began talks on normalization, a major diplomatic breakthrough with an Arab and African state two days after the Arab League rejected a US Mideast initiative.

Sudan is a longtime member of the Arab League and joined other members in rejecting President Donald Trump’s plan. But Sudan is also desperate to lift sanctions linked to its listing by the US as a state sponsor of terror – a key step toward ending its isolation and rebuilding its economy after the popular uprising that toppled longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir last year.

For Israel, the meeting marks a major step toward improving ties with both Arab and African countries, and further burnishes Netanyahu’s diplomatic credentials as he seeks re-election in March under a cloud of corruption charges.–

In a sign of the sensitivities involved, the meeting with Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of Sudan’s transitional government, was kept secret, with Netanyahu only announcing it after the fact.

“We agreed to begin cooperation that will lead to normalization of relations between the two countries,” Netanyahu tweeted. “History!”

Netanyahu’s office said the meeting came at the invitation of Uganda. It said Netanyahu “believes that Sudan is moving in a new and positive direction, and the prime minister expressed his views to the US Secretary of State” – an apparent reference to removal from the terror list.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo invited Burhan to visit the United States in a phone call on Sunday. The date of the visit has not yet been set.

Under al-Bashir, Sudan was also believed to have served as a pipeline for Iran to supply weapons to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. Israel was believed to have been behind airstrikes in Sudan that destroyed a convoy in 2009 and a weapons factory in 2012.

Sudan hosted the Arab League summit after the 1967 war that became famous for establishing the “three no’s”: No to peace with Israel, no to recognition of Israel and no to negotiations with Israel.

That consensus broke down when Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, and has further eroded in recent years as Israel has improved ties with Gulf Arab nations that share its concerns about Iran. Establishing diplomatic ties with Sudan would be seen in Israel as a major achievement. Only two Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, have made peace with Israel.

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