Israeli delegation travels to Sudan to discuss normalisation: Report

Israeli public broadcaster Kan radio said the discussions were held in Khartoum (AFP)

Middle East Eye  /  October 22, 2020

Israel’s Kan radio gave no further details about the talks as a minister predicted a possible diplomatic breakthrough.

An Israeli delegation made a rare visit to Sudan on Wednesday to discuss normalising ties, Israeli public broadcaster Kan radio said, as a minister predicted a possible diplomatic breakthrough between the two countries.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen told Israel’s Channel 13 News that he believed Israel was “very close to normalising ties with Sudan”.

Kan radio gave no further details about the discussions held in Khartoum. 

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office and the country’s foreign ministry declined to comment when asked about prospects for a breakthrough with Sudan, Reuters reported.

Ahead of his re-election bid, top aides to US President Donald Trump this week escorted Israeli delegates to Bahrain and UAE delegates to Israel, cementing Israel’s new, US-brokered relations with the Gulf states.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that Washington had begun the process of removing Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and was also working “diligently” to get Khartoum to recognise Israel.

Pompeo stopped short of saying Sudan’s removal would be linked to whether it would agree to normalise relations with Israel. Sudanese sources have not indicated so far that normalisation talks were far advanced.

‘Announcement will come before 3 November’

Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis said that the US would announce another deal establishing ties between Israel and an Arab or Muslim country before the US election.

“I have a reasonable basis to believe that the announcement will come before 3 November – that, if you’ll permit me, is what I understand from my sources,” Akunis told Israel’s Army Radio.

Akunis said several countries were candidates to normalise relations with Israel. He did not name these, saying that it was “customary” to let the first official word come from Washington.

But US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman did not indicate any imminent diplomatic breakthrough.

“More nations that are in the Arab League will normalise and make peace with Israel, I have no doubt, it is a certainty,” he told a conference hosted by Israel Hayom newspaper and the Kohelet Policy Forum think-tank.

“How many, in what order, I think everyone is just going to have to wait and see.”