October 13, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — The Sudanese government downplayed the significance of changes made to the new generation of Sudanese passports that practically allows its bearer to use it to travel to Israel.
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Khartoum quietly removed a statement on the Machine Readable Passports (MRP) nullifying the validity of the document if used for Israel bound trips.
Sudan, as a member of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is required to issue MRP containing biometric information to its citizens by April 2010.
The old Sudanese passport had a stamp on it reading that it is valid for “All Countries Except Israel”. South Africa is the only other country to be covered by this ban in the history of Sudanese passports during the apartheid era.
Major General Adam Daleel assistant police chief for passports and civil registry told the pro-government Al-Rayaam newspaper in an interview that said that removing the ban was a procedural decision relating to the size of the stamp on the passport.
Daleel stressed that people should not read too much into this step stressing that Sudan is committed to Arab embargo on Israel that commenced in 1958.
The Sudanese official said that removing the stamp should not be understood as endorsing trips by its citizens to the Jewish state.
He noted that the Sudanese national assembly at some point objected to the stamp saying it is a recognition of Israel.
Daleel acknowledged that Sudanese citizens can use the passport to travel to Israel if they reside outside the country but that the authorities will not grant an exit visa to anyone intending to head towards the Jewish state.
Sudan has no diplomatic relations established with Israel and remains hostile to the Jewish state on the grounds that it is occupying Arab lands.
This year it was revealed that Israel conducted an airstrike inside Sudan on an arms convoy believed to be headed towards Gaza strip.
Ironically, Israel has witnessed an influx of Sudanese refugees particularly from the war ravaged region of Darfur who filed for asylum after crossing the dangerous terrain at the Egyptian border which took a toll on several of them shot by border patrol.
Israel considers Sudan, a Muslim-dominated country, an “enemy state” and maintains a policy of not allowing citizens of a state with this classification of residing in the country though it ended up giving hundreds of them a protected status and work permits for humanitarian reasons.
According to United Nations figures of 2007, the number of the Sudanese in Israel was estimated at 1,200 refugees from Sudan in Israel.