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Abbas slams Israel-Sudan deal: ‘No one can speak on behalf of Palestinians’

Hamas, Arab Israeli lawmaker also condemn normalization agreement, but Egypt’s Sissi welcomes ‘all efforts aimed at establishing regional peace and stability’

Former Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, center, confers with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right, as Yemen's President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi looks on as they prepare for a photo session at the extraordinary Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit on Palestinian issues in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, March 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
Former Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, center, confers with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right, as Yemen's President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi looks on as they prepare for a photo session at the extraordinary Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit on Palestinian issues in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, March 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday slammed the announcement of a normalization deal between Israel and Sudan, saying no one else had the right to speak on behalf of the Palestinians.

Abbas “condemns and rejects” the normalization of ties between Israel and Sudan which was announced earlier by US President Donald Trump, following similar deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in recent months.

“No one has the right to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause,” the statement from Abbas’s office said.

During a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sudan Sovereign Council president General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, Trump brought reporters into the Oval Office and announced: “The State of Israel and the Republic of Sudan have agreed to make peace.”

Regarding the Palestinians, Trump said: “And the Palestinians, by the way, if you ask about the Palestinians, they’re wanting to do something. They have never seen anything like this. They’re wanting to do something. I’m sure that will get done too.”

His senior aide Jared Kushner added later: “We’re very confident that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be resolved as well.”

President Donald Trump talks on a phone call with the leaders of Sudan and Israel, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, left, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, applaud in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

As the call was ongoing, PLO official Wasel Abu Youssef released a statement calling the agreement “a new stab in the back for the Palestinians.”

The Hamas terror group, which rules the Gaza Strip, also condemned the deal as a “political sin” that harms both Palestinians and Sudanese.

The accord “harms our Palestinian people and their just cause, and even harms the Sudanese national interests,” Hamas said in a statement. “It benefits only Netanyahu.”

Israeli Arab lawmaker Jamal Zahalka from the predominantly Arab Joint List also condemned the deal.

“I condemn the agreement between Sudan and Israel that comes at the expense of the Palestinians. I am sure that the Sudanese people are opposed,” he tweeted. “This is not the UAE and there is widespread opposition to the agreement.”

Whether or not to normalize ties with Israel has been a matter of vehement debate within Sudan’s transitional government, with its military wing, headed by Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan, said in favor, but Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok opposed.

The deal with Sudan will include aid and investment from Israel, particularly in technology and agriculture, along with further debt relief. It comes as Sudan and its transitional government teeter on the edge. Thousands have protested in the country’s capital Khartoum and other regions in recent days over dire economic conditions.

A demonstrator gives the victory sign at a protest, in Khartoum, Sudan, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. Protesters have taken to the streets in the capital and across the country over dire living conditions and a deadly crackdown on demonstrators in the east earlier this month. Sudan is currently ruled by a joint civilian-military government, following the popular uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir last year. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)

Trump earlier on Friday signed a waiver to remove Khartoum from the State Department’s blacklist of state terror sponsors.

Sudan’s presence on the terror list — along with Iran, North Korea and Syria — subjects it to crippling economic sanctions and limits the impoverished country’s access to international credit.

Not everyone in Sudan, however, appears happy with recognizing Israel. Some Islamist politicians, sidelined after the ouster of autocrat Omar al-Bashir, said they expect to receive renewed public support.

“I expect anger. I expect demonstrations,” said Mohammed El Hassan, one of the leaders of al-Bashir’s disbanded National Congress Party. “As Muslims, we stand with the Palestinians. It is not the transitional government’s role to take this kind of decision.”

But others say that normalization is worth the price for Sudan to come off the US terrorism list.

“Because of the economy, Sudanese don’t see this as normalization with Israel but normalization with the international community,” said Osman Mirgany, a prominent Sudanese columnist and editor of the daily al-Tayar. “After years of isolation, we want normal relations.”

Egypt, the first country to sign a peace deal with Israel in 1979, was one of the few Arab countries to publicly welcome the Israel-Sudan deal.

“I welcome the joint efforts of the United States, Sudan and Israel to normalize relations between Sudan and Israel and I value all efforts aimed at establishing regional peace and stability,” Egyptian leader Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi tweeted.

Regional giant Saudi Arabia was notably silent.

While officially stating that it will not normalize ties until Israel signs an internationally recognized peace accord with the Palestinians, Riyadh has given tacit approval to the UAE and Bahrain deals and allowed Israeli aircraft to use its airspace.

Trump speculated Friday that Saudi Arabia and four other Arab nations could be next to sign normalization deals with Israel.

The deal is a further blow to the so-called “Arab consensus” that has long held that Arab states will only normalize ties if Israel meets a number of conditions.

One demand is for Israel to withdraw from the territories it captured in the Six Day War of 1967.

Another is to agree to a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and a third to find a solution for the millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants around the world.

The Palestinians say the recognitions amount to betrayal, while Israel says the Palestinians have lost what they have seen as their “veto” over regional peace efforts.

Netanyahu has made it a priority to forge ties with formerly hostile countries in Africa and the Arab world in the absence of any progress with the Palestinians during his more than a decade in office. The deals also mark a unifying of some Arab countries with Israel against their common adversary, Iran.

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