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(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Israel formally recognized the new state of South Sudan on Sunday, just a day after it declared its
“Yesterday, a new state was born, South Sudan,” Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting. “I hereby
announce that Israel recognizes the Republic of South Sudan. We wish it
This is a peace-seeking country and we would be pleased to
cooperate with it in order to ensure its development and its prosperity.
Greetings to South Sudan.”
With an eye on the likely Palestinian bid in
September for recognition of statehood at the UN, one diplomatic official noted
that the South Sudan declaration – in contrast to the likely Palestinian
Authority move – came only after negotiations and an agreement.
Minister Eli Yishai was reported as saying at the cabinet meeting that South
Sudan’s independence would help stem the tide of Sudanese migrants coming to
Israel, and facilitate efforts to repatriate those already here.
good they became independent,” he was quoted as saying. “This will reduce
infiltration from there and make it easier for us to return the infiltrators
We will try to reach an understanding with them through
dialogue and negotiations.”
About 8,000 Sudanese migrants, many of them
from South Sudan, are believed to be in Israel.
Foreign Minister Avigdor
Lieberman told Israel Radio that the Foreign Ministry has extensive contacts
with South Sudan that have been quietly established over the last few
The president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, was quoted in October
as saying that he did not rule out the establishment of “good relations” with
Israel, including the opening of an Israeli embassy in Juba, the country’s
He was also quoted as saying at the time that Israel “is the
enemy of the Palestinians only, and not an enemy of the South.” He also hinted
at the time of recognition of Israel.
In December, after a meeting with
Arab League Secretary Amr Moussa, the London- based Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat
reported that Kiir denied in that meeting reports about the existence of ties
between South Sudan and Israel, and that he understood the Arab sensitivity
about this issue.
South Sudan is mostly Christian and animist, while
Sudan is mostly Muslim.