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Israel offers to mediate between warring sides in Sudan

Jerusalem proposes a long-term ceasefire.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen meets in Khartoum with Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, leader of Sudan’s transitional government, Feb. 2, 2023. Source: Sudan Transitional Sovereign Council/Twitter.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen meets in Khartoum with Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, leader of Sudan’s transitional government, Feb. 2, 2023. Source: Sudan Transitional Sovereign Council/Twitter.

Israel has submitted a formal proposal to the warring generals in Sudan offering to mediate a long-term ceasefire between the opposing sides.

Israeli officials presented the proposal to Sudanese military chief Lt. Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Burhan and to Rapid Support Forces (RSF) head Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is known as Hemedti, Axios reported on Monday, citing three Israeli Foreign Ministry officials.

Israeli officials held several separate calls with the two generals since the fighting started more than a week ago, urging them to implement a truce.

A U.S.-brokered 72-hour ceasefire officially came into effect Tuesday after 10 days of fighting killed hundreds of people, forced thousands to flee their homes and created a humanitarian crisis that the U.N. warned could have catastrophic consequences.

According to the report, Israel coordinated its efforts with the Biden administration and regional countries such as the United Arab Emirates.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told Axios that since his recent visit to Khartoum, he has been in regular contact with leaders in the country in order to strengthen relations.

“Since the fighting started in Sudan, Israel has been working in different channels in order to reach a ceasefire. The progress we have made with the two parties is very encouraging. If there will be a way that Israel could help in stopping the war and the violence in Sudan we will be very happy to do it,” said Cohen.

Al-Burhan and Hemedti led a military coup in October 2021, derailing the transition to democracy that began after the ouster of long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir. But disagreements between them have rapidly escalated, particularly after the military, RSF and a coalition of civilian parties last December signed a preliminary deal to transition to civilian rule.

Cohen in February made a “historic diplomatic visit” to Khartoum where he met with Al-Burhan and then announced that the countries would sign a peace agreement in Washington later this year.

“Today’s visit to Sudan lays the foundation for a historic peace agreement with a strategic Arab and Muslim country,” said Cohen upon returning to Israel. “The peace agreement between Israel and Sudan will promote regional stability and contribute to the national security of the State of Israel.”

During the visit, the two officials discussed the necessary steps to sign a peace treaty in the near future, following the finalization of Sudan’s civilian government.

Located on the Red Sea, Sudan is Africa’s third-largest country, home to about 47 million. It opposed Israel for decades and fought alongside Arab countries during the Jewish state’s War of Independence in 1948 and the Six-Day War in 1967. It has facilitated weapons transfers to Hamas and hosted the 1968 Arab League summit, which ratified the infamous “three no’s” to peace with Israel, recognition of Israel and negotiations with Israel.

Khartoum agreed to normalize relations with Israel in October 2020 under the Trump administration, in exchange for Washington removing Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. In January 2021, it became the fourth country to sign onto the Abraham Accords, following in the footsteps of the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco.

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