Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday hailed the US-brokered agreement between Israel and Sudan to normalize relations, calling it an “incredible transformation.”
“Today we announce another dramatic breakthrough for peace. Another Arab state joining the circle of peace. This time, it’s normalization between Israel and Sudan,” Netanyahu, flanked by Israeli, Sudanese and American flags, said in a Hebrew-language video statement from his Jerusalem office.
“In Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, in 1967 the Arab League adopted it’s three ‘No’s’: ‘No to peace with Israel, no to recognition of Israel and no to negotiations with Israel.'”
“But today Khartoum has said, ‘yes to peace with Israel, yes to recognition of Israel and yes to normalization with Israel.’ This is a new era. An era of true peace. A peace that is expanding with other Arab countries – with three of them joining in recent weeks,” the premier continued.
The statement was released while Netanyahu was on the phone with US President Donald Trump along with Sudan Sovereign Council president General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. Sitting in the Oval Office, Trump placed the three leaders on speakerphone after his staff had ushered the White House press corps into the room to break the news.
In Netanyahu’s video statement, the prime minister said that delegations from the two countries would be meeting in the near future “to discuss cooperation in many areas, including agriculture, trade and other areas important to our citizens.”
“The skies of Sudan are open to Israel today. This allows for direct and shorter flights between Israel and Africa and South America,” he added, before thanking al-Burhan, Hamdok and Trump.
He did not specify when or even whether Israel and Sudan would open embassies in each other’s countries.
“What excitement!” concluded an elated Netanyahu. “To many more [peace deals]!”
A joint statement from the US, Israel and Sudan released by the White House said Netanyahu, al-Burhan and Hamdok “agreed to the normalization of relations between Sudan and Israel and to end the state of belligerence between their nations.”
It came less than two hours after the White House announced that Trump had notified Congress of his intention to remove Sudan from the State Department’s blacklist of state sponsors of terror. Congress now has 45 days to approve the measure.
“In light of this historic progress, and following President Trump’s decision to remove Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, the United States and Israel agreed to partner with Sudan in its new start and ensure that it is fully integrated into the international community,” the US-Israel-Sudan joint statement added.
“This move will improve regional security and unlock new opportunities for the people of Sudan, Israel, the Middle East, and Africa,” it said.
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.
Recently, the United States brokered diplomatic pacts between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Jordan recognized Israel in the 1990s, while Egypt was the first to sign a peace deal in 1979.
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.