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Israel, Sudan lay foundation for ‘historic’ peace agreement

Israel’s foreign minister hammered out details with the leader of Sudan’s transitional government in Khartoum.

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 will sign a peace agreement with Sudan later this year in Washington, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen announced Thursday. He confirmed rumors he made a “historic diplomatic visit” to Khartoum earlier in the day. There, he met with General Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan, leader of Sudan’s transitional government.

“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. Israel conveyed to Sudan its intent to aid in areas that include food security, water-resource management and agriculture.

In Khartoum, Cohen presented an aid program focused on humanitarian goods, water purification and medical needs.

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 Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 and 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. 

Now, Khartoum and Jerusalem appear to be building a new reality, “in which the ‘three no’s’ become the ‘three yeses,’” said Cohen. “Yes to negotiations between Israel and Sudan, yes to recognition of Israel and yes to peace between the states and between the peoples.”

Khartoum first 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.

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco have also joined the accords, although the current development with Sudan is being billed as a peace agreement in the vein of those forged between Israel and Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994).

Cohen said the signing of a peace agreement with Sudan will help Israel establish relations with other African countries and strengthen existing ties. 

“Israel has been a significant partner for many years in the development processes in these countries and in dealing with the consequences of climate change and the economic challenges in Africa,” he said.

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