U.S. President Donald Trump, seeking re-election on Nov. 3, sealed the agreement in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Transitional Council Head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, senior U.S. officials said.
Trump’s decision this week to remove Sudan from the U.S. 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.
Netanyahu hailed it as a “new era” for the region, but the Palestinian leadership, watching as more of their Arab brethren appear to give their quest for statehood a lower priority, called it a “new stab in the back.”
Israel and Sudan plan to begin by opening economic and trade links, with an initial focus on agriculture, the joint statement said. A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said such issues as formal establishment of diplomatic ties would be resolved later.
In recent weeks the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain became the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to agree to formal links with Israel, forged largely through shared fears of Iran.
The military and civilian leaders of Sudan’s transitional government have been divided over how fast and how far to go in establishing ties with Israel. A sticking point in the negotiations was Sudan’s insistence that any announcement of Khartoum’s delisting from the terrorism designation not be explicitly linked to relations with Israel.
The Sudanese premier wants approval from a yet-to-be formed parliament to proceed with broader, formal normalization, and that may not be a quick process given sensitivities and civilian-military differences. It is still unclear when the assembly will be created.
“Agreement on normalization with Israel will be decided after completion of the constitutional institutions through the formation of the legislative council,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Omar Gamareldin said on state television shortly after Friday’s announcement.
The new agreement was negotiated on the U.S. side by a team that included Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who called the normalization deals the start of a “paradigm shift” in the Middle East.