Jerusalem quickly recognizes South Sudan

PM says "we will be happy to cooperate with new country"; Yishai: New state will make it easier on Israel to send back Sudanese refugees.

By
July 10, 2011 11:25
1 minute read.
Netanyahu speaking at the cabinet meeting, Sunday.

netanyahu cabinet meeting_311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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Israel formally recognized the new state of South Sudan on Sunday, just a day after it declared its independence.

“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 success.

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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.

Interior 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.

“It is 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 from Sudan.

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 months.

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 capital.

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.

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