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Sudan officially annuls 63-year Israel boycott law

Removal of 1958 legislation barring ties with Jewish state approved in joint vote of ruling sovereignty council and cabinet

Sudanese demonstrate in support of their people in Sudan, in south Tel Aviv, on April 13, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/ Flash90 /File)
Sudanese demonstrate in support of their people in Sudan, in south Tel Aviv, on April 13, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/ Flash90 /File)

The Sudanese ruling sovereignty council and cabinet on Monday officially voted to annul the so-called Israel boycott law as part of the normalization process between Khartoum and Jerusalem.

The decision to scrap the 1958 law was confirmed earlier this month by the Sudanese prime minister’s office, which said ministers also affirmed Sudan’s support for the establishment of a Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution.

The move to finally wipe the law from the books was confirmed by Sudanese Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari, following a joint session between the ruling sovereignty council and the cabinet on Monday.

The legislation had barred the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel and forbade any business ties with the Jewish state. Penalties for those who violated its stipulations, such as trading with Israelis, included up to 10 years in prison and a hefty fine.

This combination of pictures created on October 24, 2020, shows (L to R): President of the Sudanese Transitional Council General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on the outskirts of the capital Khartoum on October 30, 2019; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on January 28, 2020; and Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok in the capital Khartoum on July 26, 2020.(ASHRAF SHAZLY and Sarah Silbiger / various sources / AFP)

In January, Sudan signed onto the Abraham Accords with the United States, paving the way for the African country to normalize ties with Israel.

The signing came just over two months after then-US president Donald Trump announced that Sudan would start to normalize ties with Israel.

Before Sudan, the Trump administration engineered diplomatic pacts late last year between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and between Israel and Bahrain. Morocco also reestablished diplomatic relations with Israel after cutting ties in 2000 in solidarity with Palestinians during the Second Intifada.

The accords have also contributed to the isolation and weakening of the Palestinian position, by eroding a longstanding Arab consensus that recognition of Israel should only be given in return for concessions in the peace process.

Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy after a popular uprising led the military to overthrow longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. The county is now ruled by a joint military and civilian government that seeks better ties with Washington and the West.

Then-US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin (L) and Sudanese Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari sign the Abraham Accords in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, January 6, 2021. (Screen capture: Facebook)

In December, Trump’s administration finalized the removal of Sudan from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism. The move was a key incentive for the government in Khartoum to normalize relations with Israel.

Sudan’s economy had suffered from decades of US sanctions and mismanagement under al-Bashir, who had ruled the country since a 1989 Islamist-backed military coup.

The designation dated back to the 1990s, when Sudan briefly hosted al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and other wanted terrorists. Sudan was also believed to have served as a pipeline for Iran to supply weapons to Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

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