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Sudanese ministers vote to annul Israel boycott law amid normalization drive

Cancellation of 1958 legislation barring ties with Jewish state must still be approved in joint vote of cabinet and ruling sovereignty council

This combination of pictures created on October 23, 2020, shows an Israeli flag during a rally in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on September 19, 2020; and a Sudanese flag during a gathering east of the capital Khartoum on June 3, 2020. (JACK GUEZ and ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)
This combination of pictures created on October 23, 2020, shows an Israeli flag during a rally in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on September 19, 2020; and a Sudanese flag during a gathering east of the capital Khartoum on June 3, 2020. (JACK GUEZ and ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

Sudanese government ministers on Tuesday voted to annul the so-called Israel boycott law as part of the normalization efforts between Khartoum and Jerusalem.

The decision to scrap the 1958 law was confirmed 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.

A joint vote of the cabinet and the ruling sovereignty council must still be held before the law is removed from the books.

The legislation 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): the 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 dates 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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