Sudan and Israel announce plans for a peace deal

Despite criticism from the ongoing pro-democracy movement in the country, Sudan is one of the four Arab countries that have “normalized” relations with Israel by signing the Abraham Accords 

February 03, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Sudan-Israel normalization
Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (L) with Sudan’s military chief and head of the transitional government Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. (Photo: Twitter)

After making the first ever official visit to Khartoum by a senior Israeli politician, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen claimed on Thursday, February 2, that his country was going to sign a peace treaty and normalize relations with Sudan soon. 

Cohen’s ministry also published a brief statement on Twitter saying that the final text of the agreement between the two countries was ready. It claimed that the text of the agreement had been prepared under US supervision. It also said that “the signing ceremony is expected to take place after the transfer of power in Sudan to a civilian government.”

Cohen was on a state visit to Khatoum on Thursday, and was received by Sudan’s military chief and head of the transitional government Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.  

Saying that “it has been agreed to move forward towards normalization of relations between the two countries,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali al-Sadiq confirmed Cohen’s claims, AFP reported.

Normalization of relations faces popular resistance in Sudan  

Sudan had already signed the Abraham Accords in January 2021, negotiated under US pressure, and announced a normalization of relations with Israel. However, at the time, there was no formal agreement between Israel and Sudan. 

Sudan has been going through a long political battle between its military and the pro-democracy political forces in the country since the removal of long time ruler Omar al-Bashir in 2019. So far, the military junta has refused to hand over full power to the civilian government. Instead, it sacked a transitional civilian administration in October 2021 and seized full control. 

After another round of popular mobilization in December last year, pro-democracy forces signed another deal for the transition of power with Burhan’s military junta. According to the new deal, the military will hand over power to a civilian government. It is unclear when the transfer of power will take place. Pro-democracy forces have been opposing any reconciliation with the military junta.

The parties organizing the popular protests have als0 been opposed to any normalization with Israel, calling it betrayal of both Palestine and the peace process in the region.

Arab countries move away from their own commitments 

The UAE and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords with Donald Trump, the US president at the time, in September 2020, to normalize relations with Israel. Sudan soon announced that it would do the same, and signed the Accords formally in January 2021. Morocco signed a similar treaty later. 

Such a “normalization” of relations with Israel by the Arab countries has, however, been termed by Palestinians a “betrayal” of their cause. 

Due to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the Arab League had adopted a resolution in Khartoum in 1967 announcing three Nos: no to Peace with Israel, no to recognition of Israel, and no to negotiation with Israel. 

However, under the land for peace formula, Egypt signed a treaty with Israel in 1979 and became the first country to violate the Khartoum Resolution. In 1994, Jordan signed a treaty with Israel as well. 

After witnessing the Egyptian and Jordanian examples, in 2002, the remaining countries agreed to Saudi Arabia’s Arab Peace Initiative, according to which, until a two-state solution becomes a reality, no Arab country will have any relations with Israel. 

The Abraham Accords prove that Arab countries’ commitments under the Arab Peace Initiative are also meaningless when it comes to their calculations of national interest. Other countries such as Saudi Arabia and Oman were expected to sign the deal as well in its initial year.    

The Sudanese government had claimed that it signed the deal in return for the US removing it from the list of countries ‘sponsoring terrorism.’ It was also hoped that the deal would help the country secure a loan from the World Bank.