KHARTOUM – On Thursday, Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok indicated he was ready to proceed with normalizing relations with Israel once a yet-to-be-formed transitional parliament has approved the step, two Sudanese government sources told Reuters.
The comments are the clearest sign that Hamdok, under pressure from the United States, is willing to contemplate Sudan establishing ties with former adversary Israel.
Such a move would not be imminent, because the parliament still needs to be established under a power-sharing deal between the military officers and civilians who have been running Sudan jointly since the overthrow of autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
It is unclear when the assembly will be formed.
On Wednesday, an Israeli delegation made a rare visit to Sudan to discuss normalizing 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 normalizing ties with Sudan.”
Kan radio gave no further details about the discussions held in Khartoum. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office and the Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to comment when asked about prospects for a breakthrough with Sudan.
In a foreign policy flourish ahead of his re-election bid, top aides to President Trump escorted Israeli delegates to Bahrain and UAE delegates to Israel this week, cementing Israel’s new, U.S.-brokered relations with the Gulf states.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday said that the United States had begun the process of removing Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and was also working “diligently” to get Khartoum to recognize Israel.
Pompeo stopped short of saying Sudan’s removal would be linked to whether it would agree to normalize relations with Israel. Sudanese sources have not indicated so far that normalization talks were far advanced.
Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis said that the United States would announce another deal establishing ties between Israel and an Arab or Muslim country before the U.S. election.
“I have a reasonable basis to believe that the announcement will come before Nov. 3 — 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 normalize relations with Israel. He did not name these, saying that it was “customary” to let the first official word come from Washington.
But U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman did not indicate any imminent diplomatic breakthrough.
“More nations that are in the Arab League will normalize 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.”