Israel relations agreed, Donald Trump announces

Cheryl Sanders
October 24, 2020

"It's kind of hilarious that in end, the one thing Jared Kushner actually did get done was brokering a bunch of (incredibly cynical and transactional) middle east deals", Hayes tweeted.

Israel and Sudan have agreed to take steps to normalise relations in a deal brokered with the help of the United States.

Sudan followed a path begun by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in striking deals aimed at normalising relations with Israel.

Trump is trailing in national polls but is predicting victory. Although foreign policy is not a major focus of his campaign, his record of supporting Israel is an exception. A reference to his 2017 decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a standard applause line at Trump rallies, and the normalization agreements are now also a regular feature.

It also delivers a foreign policy achievement for Trump just days before the US election and boosts his embattled ally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Trump's decision this week to remove Sudan from the USA list of state sponsors of terrorism paved the way for the accord with Israel, marking a foreign policy achievement for the Republican president as he seeks a second term trailing in opinion polls behind Democratic rival Joe Biden.

During the news conference, President Trump said the agreement cost the United States "nothing".

The Sudan announcement came shortly after Trump formally notified Congress of his intent to rescind Khartoum's placement on the US's state sponsors of terrorism list.

While the formal notification has not yet been delivered to Congress, it can now happen because Sudan transferred the $335 million for terror victims to a European bank, according to two sources. Hamdok is the civilian leader, sharing power with Gen. Abdel Fattah al Burhan, chair of Sudan's Transitional Military Council, after the military ousted Omar al Bashir, a murderous dictator who led the country from 1989 to 2019.

Bashir was ousted previous year and replaced by a transition government, which faces serious economic difficulties with a sharp depreciation of the Sudanese pound.

Sudan's generals, who wield the real power, have supported establishing relations with Israel as a way to help get U.S. sanctions on Sudan lifted and open the door to badly needed economic aid. Irans Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is also openly threatening Sudans government with retaliation on Twitter if it joins those making peace with Israel. Sudan also is opening its skies to Israeli flights, which will shorten trips to Africa and South America, he said. "Three in the last few weeks".

The statement issued Friday afternoon praised Sudan's transitional government and did not mention the terror list issue, in apparent deference to the wishes of Sudan's leaders to soften the public appearance of a quid pro quo.

While Sudan previously lived under a "brutal dictatorship", the statement notes that the country has recently seen significant progress in "combating terrorism, building its democratic institutions, and improving its relations with its neighbors".

It fought in wars against Israel in 1948 and 1967, provided a haven for Palestinian guerrilla groups and is suspected of sending Iranian arms to Palestinian militants in Gaza several years ago - prompting alleged Israeli air strikes against it.

Israel said the recognitions signal that the Palestinians have lost their "veto" over regional peace efforts.

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

"This is an incredible deal for Israel and Sudan", President Trump said in the Oval Office, according to a White House pool report.

With the Sudanese public largely opposed to normalization of ties with Israel, the country's unelected transitional government sought to have Trump sign the terror list paperwork first. The listing had imposed punitive sanctions on Sudan's ability to make dollar transactions and receive aid and investment.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, Chairman al-Burhan, and Prime Minister Hamdok expressed their appreciation for President Trump for his pragmatic and unique approach to ending old conflicts and building a future of peace and opportunity for all the people of the region.

Sudan's listing on the state sponsors of terrorism list waived that immunity, but before Congress returns it, some lawmakers have concerns about protecting ongoing litigation by victims of the September 11 attacks, even though Sudan has not been found liable for those. The Washington Post's Max Bearak contributed from Nairobi.

Other reports by iNewsToday