Sudan Seems to Back Off From Rapid Normalization With Israel

(Bloomberg) -- Sudan appeared to back away from any rapid move toward normalization with Israel, less than two days after the military leader who heads the power-sharing government held an historic meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The transitional government as a whole must ensure accountability, responsibility and transparency,” said Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, whose civilian part of the administration was initially unaware of the talks. Under a new pact following last year’s ouster of longtime President Omar al-Bashir, “decisions related to Sudan’s foreign affairs must be made by the Council of Ministers,” he said Wednesday on Twitter.

After the shock Monday meeting in Uganda between Netanyahu and Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s sovereign council, the Israeli leader’s office said the two had agreed to work toward normalizing relations. That would be a watershed for the Arab League member that’s never officially recognized the Jewish state.

The news sparked intense debate in Muslim-majority Sudan, which is edging toward democracy after three decades of al-Bashir’s authoritarian rule. No government since independence in 1956 has had official ties with Israel, while the capital, Khartoum, was the venue for the 1967 Arab League summit that famously declared the so-called “Three No’s”: no peace, no recognition and no negotiations.

Al-Burhan late Tuesday said that the talks were in the interests of national security and furthering the goals of Sudan. He said relations with Israel are the responsibility of a specific institution -- a reference to the cabinet -- and that Sudan remained committed to Palestinians’ right to an independent state.

Sudan’s army on Wednesday welcomed the results of al-Burhan’s visit to Uganda and said in a statement that it would benefit the North African country.

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