Establishing ties with Israel is in our interest - top Sudanese official

Sudan does not want to link its removal from a US terrorism list that is hindering access to foreign funding for its economy with a normalization of relations with Israel, PM Abdalla Hamdok said.

Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo greets his supporters during a meeting in Khartoum, Sudan. (photo credit: REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS)
Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo greets his supporters during a meeting in Khartoum, Sudan.
(photo credit: REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS)
Sudan ascribes great importance to establishing ties with Israel so that it can be removed from the United States’ terror list, deputy chairman of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo has told TV station Sudania 24.
Dagalo is known for his support of Sudan-Israeli ties and his interview came on the day he met with Donald Booth, the US’s special envoy to Sudan.
Dagalo later tweeted that the two had discussed the removal of Sudan from the US list of terrorism sponsors.
“Establishing ties with Israel is a Sudanese interest,” Dagalo said, according to a report on the interview in Israel Hayom. “Our removal from the list of state sponsors of terror depends on it,” he added. The two issues have been linked, but apart from Dagalo, other officials in Sudan have sought to keep them separate.
Sudan does not want to link its removal the US list that is hindering the African state’s access to foreign funding with the normalization of relations with Israel, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said last week.
Sources said that US officials indicated in talks with a Sudanese delegation they wanted Khartoum to follow the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and establish ties with Israel.
Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terror harks back to the days of former ruler Omar al-Bashir, and its transitional government is hampered by its inability to access urgently needed debt relief and foreign financing.
Hamdok said Sudan had told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a visit last month that it was necessary to separate the issues.
“This topic (ties to Israel) needs a deep discussion of the society,” he told a conference in Khartoum.
Until recently, there had been high hopes in Jerusalem that Sudan could be one of the next countries to normalize ties with Israel. But the talks on both issues faltered last month.
On Friday, Dagalo told reporters that while “[Sudan does] not have a border with the Palestinians,” it remains “committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state,” although the Palestinian issue may not be enough to prevent the establishment of ties between the two countries.
In August, Haidar Badawi al-Sadiq, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman, lost his job after expressing his country’s support for reaching normalization with Israel. Sudanese Foreign Minister Omer Gamur Eddin quickly refuted that statement.
Separately on Saturday, Sudan’s power-sharing government and several rebel groups formalized a peace agreement aimed at resolving the decades of conflict which have left millions displaced and hundreds of thousands dead.
Three major groups signed a preliminary deal in August – two factions from the western region of Darfur and one from the southern region – after months of talks hosted by South Sudan.
Another powerful rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu, which had not participated in initial talks, agreed last month to join new discussions hosted by South Sudan.
Dancers from Darfur and the Nile states performed on the stage before the signing in Juba.
Booth, said: “This historic achievement addresses decades of conflicts and suffering and it will also require firm and unwavering commitment to implement the agreement fully and without delays.”
The presidents of Ethiopia and Chad and the prime ministers of Egypt and Uganda were among regional officials and politicians at the event.
Tut Gatluak, the South Sudanese chief mediator, said ahead of Saturday’s ceremony that the goal was eventually to sign deals with all armed groups.
Sudan has been wracked by conflict for decades. After the oil-rich south seceded in 2011, an economic crisis fueled protests that led to the overthrow of Bashir in 2019.
Sudan’s new civilian and military leaders, who have shared power since then, say ending conflicts is a top priority.
The deal sets out terms to integrate rebels into the security forces, be politically represented and have economic and land rights. A new fund will pay $750 million a year for 10 years to the impoverished southern and western regions and the chance of return for displaced people is also guaranteed.
Analysts have welcomed the agreement but questioned the prominent role given to armed groups and the military.