By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency
Washington — October 23, 2020 … Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed today that Israel was moving quickly to normalize relations with Sudan. Netanyahu called it the start of “a new era” in the region.
“Today we announce another dramatic breakthrough towards peace,” he said. “Today Khartoum says yes to peace with Israel, yes to acknowledging Israel and yes to normalization with Israel. This is a new era, an era of true peace.”
Netanyahu said that Israeli and Sudanese delegations would soon get together to discuss commercial, agricultural, aviation, migration issues and other areas for the benefit of the two peoples.
“The skies of Sudan are now open to Israel, which allows direct and short flights between Israel, Africa and South America,” Netanyahu said.
The White House informed the US Congress of its intent to formally rescind Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
“This follows on Sudan’s recent agreement to resolve certain claims of United States victims of terror and their families,” a statement by Judd Deere, the White House Deputy Press Secretary read. It also noted that yesterday, the transitional government of Sudan transferred $335 million into an escrow account for these victims and their families.
“By finally serving justice for the American people, the White House was able to achieve what previous administrations could not – the resolution of longstanding claims of victims of the East Africa embassy bombings, the attack on the USS Cole, and the murder of USAID employee John Granville,” the White House said in a statement. “This is a significant achievement for the President and his Administration and brings a measure of closure to many to whom it has long been out of reach.”
The agreement was negotiated on the US side by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security aide Miguel Correa. Kushner called the normalization deals the start of a “paradigm shift” in the Middle East. He said Sudan’s decision was symbolically significant because it was in Khartoum in 1967 that the Arab League decided not to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Stuart Newberger, an attorney at Crowell & Moring who represents US victims of the 1998 terror embassy bombings and their families, said Congress must pass legislation because the agreement between Washington and Khartoum “requires that Sudan be basically relieved of being sued in US federal court as a sponsor of terror under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. So that’s why Congress has to get involved to provide Sudan what’s called ‘legal peace.’ The President can’t do that on his own; that’s something only Congress can do,” he said. Such legislation must be passed before the $335 million can be paid out.”
Sudan has been listed as a state sponsor of terrorism by the US government since 1993, and it is one of only four nations total designated as such. Iran, North Korea and Syria are also listed. As a result, Sudan faces a series of restrictions including a ban on defense exports and sales and restrictions on US foreign assistance.
Israel, which recently signed peace agreements with the UAE and Bahrain, is expected to sign further peace agreements with Oman, Morocco and Saudi Arabia in the near future.