Sudan protesters reject secret meeting with Israel

The head of Sudan’s National Umma Party, Mubarak Al-Fadil Al-Mahdi, yesterday hailed the meeting of the Sudanese sovereignty council, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, describing their discussion as “bold and brave.”

“Al-Burhan’s meeting with Netanyahu is a bold and courageous step that serves Sudan’s interest in lifting the US sanctions, foremost of which is removing the name of Sudan from the so-called list of State Sponsors of Terrorism,” Al-Mahdi told reporters.

He added the meeting would “open a way to forgive Sudan’s debts, restore Sudan’s relations with international financial institutions to fund its economic development initiatives, achieve peace, and take advantage of Israeli agricultural techniques to develop the country’s agricultural and irrigation sector.”

Referring to his remarks about supporting the normalisation with Israel in 2017, Al-Mahdi pointed out that “many Arab countries had normalised with Israel,” explaining that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict had ended and was “undergoing international negotiations following the Oslo agreement.”

On Monday, Netanyahu’s press office revealed the meeting in a Twitter post, stating that the two leaders had agreed on “cooperation and normalising relations between the two countries [Sudan and Israel].”

The Sudanese government, on the other hand, said it was not notified or consulted ahead of the meeting. “The sovereignty council learnt about Al-Burhan and Netanyahu’s meeting in Uganda through the local media,” Sudanese information minister, Faisal Mohamed Salih, said, adding that the council was expecting a response from Al-Burhan after his return home.

Israel’s relations with Arab countries have been strained for years over the latter’s decades-long occupation on Palestine. There has been never been any official relations between Israel and Arab countries, except for Egypt and Jordan, both of which are tied with two peace treaties with Israel.

The meeting also came amid escalated tensions between Israel and the Arab and Islamic world following the recently-released US Middle East peace plan.

The so-called “Deal of the Century” was also rejected by the United Nations (UN). It said the deal was not based along with UN guidelines but is an imposition of the American president Donald Trump’s own vision of a two-state solution. The deal was also condemned by all Palestinian parties.

Scores of Sudanese people yesterday protested outside the government’s headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, after revelations that a secret meeting was held between Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Monday.

Netanyahu’s office revealed that a meeting took place between the two men in the Ugandan city of Entebbe, during which they agreed to “start cooperation leading to the normalisation of relations between the two countries”.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese cabinet headed by Abdullah Hamdouk held an emergency meeting to discuss the Sudanese general’s meeting with Netanyahu.

The Sudanese government said on Monday that it had not been notified or consulted regarding the meeting.

Faisal Muhammad Salih, Sudanese information minister, and government spokesman, said the government “received the news about the meeting between chief of the sovereign council and Israeli prime minister through the media.”

“We, the members of the cabinet, were not notified or consulted about this meeting. We are waiting for the chief of the sovereign council to return and give clarification about this,” he added.

With the exception of Egypt and Jordan, which are bound with peace treaties with Israel, no other Arab country has established official relations with Israel.

However many appear to be fast-tracking normalising relations with the occupation state in particular Gulf states and Morocco.

In June 2018, an exposé by the New Yorker revealed that Israel and the UAE have been engaged in secret normalisation talks since the 1990s. The report disclosed that “the secret relationship between Israel and the UAE can be traced back to a series of meetings in a nondescript office in Washington D.C after the signing of the Oslo Accords.” These meetings discussed the possibility of the UAE purchasing F-16 fighter jets from the US which are known to be comprised of Israeli technology. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed Bin Zayed, also gave his blessing for delegations of influential American Jews to be brought to Abu Dhabi to meet with Emirati officials and establish an intelligence-sharing relationship.

Late last month it was revealed that Morocco had received three Israeli reconnaissance drones as part of $48 million arms deal