The Israeli newspaper Haartez has welcomed statements made by the Sudanese Minister Mubarak Al-Fadil Al-Mahdi who expressed his support for the establishment of official relations with Israel, claiming that Palestinians are to blame for selling their land in the first place.
Al-Mahdi, who is Minister of Investment in Sudan, stated during an interview with a Sudanese TV channel yesterday that there should be no objection to the idea of normalising relations with Israel, pointing out that this can serve the interests of Sudan.
He said that “Palestinians have normalised their relationship with Israel; even the Hamas movement is talking to Israel. Palestinians are getting tax money from Israel and electricity from Israel too. Palestinians sit with Israel and talk to Israelis. It is true that there is an ongoing conflict between them, but they sit with them.”
Al-Mahdi, president of the Umma Party, claimed that Palestinians bear a great deal of responsibility for their ordeal. The Arab countries have also made many mistakes with regard to Palestine, including abstaining from voting on the partition plan during the United Nation’s General Assembly back in 1947, he said.
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He added that “Arab countries traded the Palestinian cause in order to achieve internal goals,” considering that Palestine “delayed the progress of the Arab world,” and that Arab regimes have repressed their people in the name of the struggle for Palestine.
He also said that Palestinians do not gain anything from the refusal of Arab countries to normalise their relationship with Israel. He praised Israeli technology and the political regime in Israel. He said “agreements could be reached with Israel, and there could be issues with them, but they have a democratic system, they also put their leaders on trial and imprison them, and they have a transparent system”.
Haartez said that Sudan is not considered an enemy nation in Israeli law, but there is a considerable hostility between the two countries and they have zero diplomatic ties. Sudanese law stipulates that the only nation Sudanese people are prohibited from visiting is Israel.
For many years now Sudan hosted leaders of Hamas and was a military and political ally of Iran and Hezbollah, according to the Israeli newspaper.
“In the beginning of last year there were many discussions regarding the possibility of normalising relations with Israel. This issue was also raised at the Sudanese National Dialogue Conference, which is a framework that includes all the parties and factions in the country, including the Sudanese army. It aims at ending internal conflicts in the nation.”
The newspaper also said that “in the context of discussions about Sudan’s relationship with foreign countries a large number of Sudanese party leaders have expressed their support for the possibility of changing Sudan’s attitude towards Israel and normalising relations. This comes as part of an attempt to get closer to the United States and push it towards lifting the economic sanctions imposed on the country”.
The newspaper commented on Al-Mahdi’s statement saying that “despite that, this is the first time that we hear direct statements by a senior cabinet minister about the normalisation of relations with Israel.”
Israel claims that Iran used Sudan as a base through which to smuggle arms into the Gaza Strip for many years and that it established, near the capital Khartoum, a long-range missiles factory dedicated to Hamas and the Islamic jihadist movement.
Between the years 2008-2014 air strikes hit Sudan targeting arms caravans that were heading to Gaza, claims Israel, as well as Iranian arms vessels anchored at Port Sudan. At that time, the Sudanese government accused Israel of carrying out those attacks but Tel Aviv never actually admitted to it.
In mid-2014 Sudan’s relationship with Iran started to deteriorate, especially in the wake of Saudi pressure on Khartoum. Sudan expelled the Iranian cultural attaché in the Tehran embassy in Sudan and closed a number of active Iranian cultural centres in the country.
Sudan later joined the Saudi-led coalition to fight the Houthi rebels in Yemen and in January 2016 Khartoum completely cut diplomatic ties with Iran following the attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
In September 2016 Haartez reported that after Sudan cut ties with Iran Israel called on the United States as well as a number of the European Union countries to improve their relations with Sudan and to take positive steps, mainly in the economic domain, towards Khartoum.
Israeli officials revealed that the Israeli message to Washington and European countries is that the positive steps taken by Sudan cannot be disregarded, and that the African country should be rewarded for doing this.
One of the steps that Tel Aviv suggested to several European countries is that they provide financial aid to Sudan to help it face its huge external debt that exceeds 50 billion dollars and also look into the possibility of canceling part of that debt.