03/10/2020

Palestinians denounce Israel-Sudan meeting as ‘stab in the back’ that hurts efforts to oppose Trump’s Middle East plan.

Israel and Sudan have agreed to move towards forging normal relations for the first time, Israeli officials said on Monday, after the leaders of the two former foes met in Uganda.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks with Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of Sudan’s sovereign council, in Entebbe, a city in central Uganda.
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“It was agreed to start cooperation leading to normalisation of the relationship between the two countries,” an Israeli statement said.
“We agreed to begin cooperation that will lead to normalisation of relations between the two countries, Netanyahu tweeted. “History!”
However, in response to Al Jazeera for a comment, the current foreign minister Asmaa Mohammed Abdullah said that she had learned of the Monday meeting through media outlets and had no further information.
Sudan’s information minister and government spokesman, Faisal Salih, also told Reuters news agency he had no information about the visit and that the cabinet had not discussed it. Officials would wait for “clarifications” on Burhan’s return, Salih said in a later statement.
Back in January 2016, Sudan’s former foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandoor said normalising relations with Israel would be possible in exchange for the lifting of US sanctions on his country.
A senior Palestinian official denounced Monday’s meeting as a “stab in the back of the Palestinian people”.
“At a time when the [US] administration of President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu are trying to liquidate the Palestinian cause,” Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said in a statement carried by official news agency WAFA.
Normalising relations with Sudan, where Arab states gathered in 1967 to issue what became known as the “Three No’s” – no recognition of Israel, no peace with Israel and no negotiations with Israel – would allow Netanyahu to burnish his diplomatic credentials a month before the country’s March 2 election.
“Netanyahu believes that Sudan is moving in a new and positive direction,” the Israeli statement said.
Sudan’s leader, it added, “is interested in helping his country go through a modernisation process by removing it from isolation and placing it on the world map”.
The Associated Press reported a Sudanese military official as saying the meeting was coordinated by the United Arab Emirates, and was also aimed at removing Sudan from the United States’ sponsors of terrorism list.
Back in January 2016, Sudan’s former foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandoor said normalising relations with Israel would be possible in exchange for the lifting of US sanctions on his country.
Israel previously considered Sudan a security threat, due to Iran’s suspected use of the country as a conduit for overland smuggling of munitions to the occupied Gaza Strip. In 2009, regional sources said, Israeli aircraft bombed an arms convoy in Sudan.
But since Sudan’s longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir was removed from office last year, Khartoum has distanced itself from Iran and no longer poses such a threat, Israeli officials say.
Netanyahu arrived in Uganda on Monday, saying Israel is “returning to Africa in a big way” and urging the East African country to open an embassy in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu, who was accompanied by his wife Sara, held a meeting with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and other officials.
In a news conference, Netanyahu said he would open an embassy in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, if Museveni established one in Jerusalem. The Ugandan leader responded by saying his government was “studying” the matter.
Most countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv because they view the final status of Jerusalem as something that should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.
Trump broke with that consensus when he recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the US embassy there in 2018. The move infuriated the Palestinians, who cut off contacts with the US.
Last week, Trump unveiled his long-awaited Middle East plan for Israel-Palestine, which heavily favours Israel. It would allow Israel to keep all of its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war.
The Palestinian Authority government wants East Jerusalem and the West Bank as part of their future state. The Trump plan would instead grant them limited autonomy over Gaza, chunks of the West Bank and some sparsely populated areas of Israel, with a capital on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem.
The Palestinians have been seeking to build unified opposition among Arab nations in opposition to the plan, with the Arab League – including Sudan – rejecting it on Saturday.
Palestinian political factions said Monday’s meeting undermined those efforts, with Fatah’s secretary-general Jibril Rjoub saying it contrasts with the stance of the “brotherly Sudanese people that support the Palestinian people”.
Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said that normalising relations with Israel “encourages the occupation to continue its crimes and aggressions against the Palestinians”.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad called on the Sudanese people and their living forces and revolutionaries to reject and condemn this meeting.