What happened: Israel and Sudan have agreed to normalise relations, while Defence Minister Benny Gantz returned from Washington last week having signed an agreement to ensure Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME).
- On Friday, US President Trump convened a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Transitional Council Head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. The leaders then released a joint statement confirming they “agreed to the normalisation of relations between Sudan and Israel and to end the state of belligerence between their nations. In addition, the leaders agreed to begin economic and trade relations, with an initial focus on agriculture”.
- Netanyahu said: “In Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, the Arab League adopted the ‘three nos’ in 1967: No to peace with Israel, no to recognition of Israel, and no to negotiations with Israel. Today, however, Khartoum is saying the opposite: Yes to peace with Israel, yes to recognition of Israel, and yes to normalisation with Israel. This is truly a new age.”
- Yesterday the Prime Minister’s Office announced Israel is sending $5 million worth of wheat to Sudan.
- The Cabinet on Sunday ratified the peace agreement with the UAE, which has already been approved by the Knesset. The Cabinet also approved sending to the Knesset the agreement on establishing peaceful ties with Bahrain.
- Defence Minister Gantz signed an agreement with US Defence Secretary Mark Esper which would enable Israel’s long-term ability to purchase advanced weapons systems that will significantly upgrade Israel’s military capabilities and reinforce Israel’s security and QME in the coming decades.
Context: Sudan is the third Arab country, following UAE and Bahrain, to normalise relations with Israel in the last two months.
- Sudan is suffering economically; part of the peace agreement with Israel will see Sudan removed from the US list of state sponsors of terror and enable them to receive financial aid and debt relief.
- Until a few year ago Sudan cooperated with Iran, including allowing their territory to be used for smuggling weapons to Hamas.
- There are estimated to be over 6,000 Sudanese migrants that illegally entered Israel over the last 15 years. As a result of the agreement, many could be voluntarily repatriated.
- On the call on Friday, Trump asked Netanyahu, “Do you think Sleepy Joe could have made this deal, Bibi? Sleepy Joe? I think — do you think he would have made this deal somehow? I don’t think so.” Netanyahu refused to be drawn into US election politics and replied, “Well, Mr. President, one thing I can tell you is we appreciate the help for peace from anyone in America. And we appreciate what you’ve done enormously.”
- It is disputed whether Netanyahu gave his consent for the US to sell F-35 to the UAE as part of a secret understanding ahead of the peace agreement. Netanyahu claims Israel only gave its consent on Friday, following the conclusion of talks with the Pentagon. Gantz said the security establishment had been previously unaware of “parallel talks” to the peace negotiations to allow the supply of high-quality weapons systems to the UAE.
- A senior security official told Yediot Ahronot the new Israel-US deal includes “very sensitive and very significant” military capabilities that Israel hasn’t had up until now, and it also includes arrangements that will allow Israel to defer payment and to receive earlier delivery.
- The Israeli Air Force also hope to add another ten F-35s, in addition to the 50 already ordered.
Looking forward: Representatives from Israel and Sudan are expected to meet soon and negotiate agreements in agriculture technology, aviation, migration, and trade.
- The sides have already agreed that Israeli flights can fly over Sudanese airspace, which will allow for direct and shorter flights between Israel and Africa and South America.
- There is concern within the Israeli security establishment that the US deal to sell F-35s to the UAE will set a precedent for other Arab states to also receive the advanced stealth fighter jets. There are suggestions that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar are all keen to buy them.
- Prime Minister Netanyahu repeated over the weekend that there will be more states to normalise relations, with Israeli media suggests that a deal with Oman could be next.