On October 23rd the US President Donald Trump has announced the intention of Israel to normalise its relations with Sudan. If this happens, Sudan will be removed from the American list of islamist terrorist states.
This is a special year for the Jewish State: if the agreement with Sudan will be approved, Khartoum’s government will be the third Muslim country to normalise economic and political relations with Israel and will be taken off the American list of the islamic terrorist states.
This agreement would be extremely important as Sudan is one of the six countries which do not accept passports with Israeli visas. Hence, normalising relations with Sudan would lead to more freedom of movement of the Israelis. More freedom of movement leads to political and, most important, economic agreement. According to Reuters, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that Israel will be sending $5 million wheat to Khartoum and that he is ready to negotiate a solid trade agreement.
This agreement is giving more legitimacy to Trump‘s attitude towards peace and stability in the Middle East, gaining more support from other countries and lobbies. This agreements between Israel and other Muslim countries is fitting well with the tense historical moment that the US is living, given both the economic and social crisis of the Covid-19. As prominent Israeli lobbies supported Trump during his first presidential campaign in 2017, the Likud party will be more than willing to give Trump further support thanks to his committment in the Middle East.
Still, this agreement seems more problematic than the previous ones: some Sudanese parties demand a transitional government to approve the agreement with Israel before discussing the details. However, the parliament still needs to be officially formed in Sudan. In these days, Israel is trying to negotiate the first parts of the agreements dealing with agricolture, aviation, trade and immigration. On a social level, this agreement has been challenged by several protests which have taken place in Sudan after the official announcement of the agreement.
According to Al Jazeera, some Sudanese parties have taken actions against the agreement by organising demonstrations in Khartoum. The most important controversy revolves around the Palestinian issue. Sudan’s Popular Congress Party stated that the Sudanese people are not obliged to accept the agreement and that the government should undergo a path of solidarity towards the Palestinian issue and their rights in the Holy Land. The current Sudanese premier Al-Mahdi said that this agreement will be in breach of Sudanese national law towards the pursuit of a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians.
It is surprising to see such a strong sceptical reaction by the Sudanses government given Israel’s openness to make deals with Bahrain and the UAE. As such, it seems like the Sudanese political representation is more willing to take the Palestinian cause into account than other Muslim countries which share more ties with the Palestinians than the Sudanese people do. In fact, both Bahrain and the UAE are Arab countries, just like the Palestinians are Arab people. Still, this ethnical tie is no longer a legitimate reason to deny a possible openess towards Israel and, it goes without saying, the Americans.
From a social point of view, this agreement could be the great chance for Israel to normalise its poisitions towards the Sudanese asylum seekers. Since the date of its establishment in 1948, Israel has absorbed Jewish peoples coming from all over the world. As such, some Jewish communities have been growing more than others: in an Israeli supermarket it is very likely to find products with labels and ingredients description in Russian.
Historically speaking, the existance of Ethiopian Jews has been a secret for centuries. It is only during the great famine in North Africa in the 1980s that black Jews fled to Sudan and came to know about the existance of a Jewish State. Since then, thousands of black Jews (both Ethiopian and Sudanese) have been asking to make the aliyah (the Jewish migration) to Israel. The Israeli government’s position has always been quiet unclear: on the one hand, Israel has accepted a considerable number of asylum seekers, on the other the rising of racial and ethnical related riots in the countries has forced the government to reject several applications. According to Ha’aretz, more than 6,000 asylum seekers come from Sudan, who make up alomst a fifth of all teh asylum seekers.
Everyone could benefit from this agreement: Netanyahu ensures more stability and peace to its citizens and the Sudanese Jews could be given asylum in Israel more easily and Sudan will no longer be on the American list of the islamic terrorist states.
Everyone wins while the Palestinians stand still and watch.