KEY POINTS

  • Israel and Sudan announced initial steps toward the normalization of relations
  • Sudan becomes the latest nation to befriend Israel after Bahrain and the UAE
  • Sudan has been reinventing itself since the 2019 ouster of Omar al-Bashir

In a joint statement with the White House, the Israeli and Sudanese governments on Friday announced the first steps toward a resumption of peaceful relations.

U.S. President Donald Trump spoke Friday with Israeli and Sudanese leaders as the country’s prepared to normalize relations. With support from the Trump administration, Arab nations Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have engaged in détente with Israel this year in moves heralded as a breakthrough for regional peace.

Judd Deere, an aid to the U.S. president, was quoted by BBC as saying the period of détente was “another major step toward building peace in the Middle East with another nation joining the Abraham Accords,” the policy of normalization signed with Bahrain and the UAE.

A joint statement issued by Israel, the United States and Sudan put opening economic and trade relations at the front of the agenda.

“The leaders agreed to the normalization of relations between Sudan and Israel and to end the state of belligerence between their nations,” the statement read.

The U.S. president on Friday notified Congress that Sudan would be removed from the nation’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. Trump hinted at the move on Monday, saying he’d remove Sudan from the terrorism list after it put funds in a special escrow account to compensate victims of al-Qaida attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

In response to the attacks, President Bill Clinton ordered airstrikes on Afghanistan and Sudan for harboring al-Qaida. Sudan has made an about face since ousting long-time leader Omar al-Bashir, a suspected war criminal, in 2019.

Normalization with Israel is a profound sea change for Arab Nations. In a 1967 meeting of the Arab League in Sudan, the group pledged there would never be peace with Israel nor would it recognize it as a sovereign nation. Sudan and Israel went to war in 1948 and 1967.

Critics of the détente said it awards Israel for bad behavior given its continued aggression toward the Palestinians. Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, said Sudan’s decision was “a new stab in the back.”

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