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Sudan’s dialogue conference discusses normalization with Israel

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January 18, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Members of the Foreign Relations Committee of Sudan’s national dialogue conference have reacted differently to a proposal calling for normalizing ties with Israel.

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A Sudanese refugee stands, 11 July 2007, behind an Israeli flag at a park near the Israeli Parliament building in Jerusalem, during a rally calling the Israeli government for assistance. (AFP Photo)

The national dialogue initiated by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir last year has officially started in Khartoum last October amid boycott by main opposition parties and armed rebel groups.

Last November, the head of the little-known Independent party and member of the dialogue conference made a request for normalization with Israel arguing that there was no justification for hostility towards Israel. He pointed out that this stance took a toll on the country politically and economically.

In press statements Monday, the committee member Ibrahim Suleiman said views on normalizing relations with Israel have varied between those calling for full normalization and those who reject the idea categorically, saying few members indicated the proposal could be adopted under specific conditions.

He described the voices which rejected the normalization proposal as “weak”, saying they don’t rule out the final recommendations of the conference could include the normalization proposal.

“If the proposal was approved, it would be incorporated into the constitution”, he said.

Suleiman described the position of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) towards the normalization proposal as “unclear”, saying the view which the latter presented at the conference calls for establishing good relations with all nations.

It is worth to mention that the NCP’s head of political sector, Mustafa Osman Ismail, had earlier said the decision to normalize relations with Israel must be made by the committees of dialogue conference.

Also, Sudan’s foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour said his country wouldn’t mind considering the possibility of normalizing ties with Israel, underlining that Sudan doesn’t establish relations with one country at the expense of another country.

Suleiman added that those who support the idea of normalizing ties with Israel think the move would help achieve Sudan’s interests.

“The United States and Israel are two sides of the same coin and if the government underscores the importance to establish relation with America, why does it not establish ties with Israel?”

Until recently the Sudanese passport had a stamp on it reading that it is valid for “All Countries Except Israel”.

Sudan has no diplomatic relations established with Israel and remains hostile to the Jewish state on the grounds that it is occupying Arab lands.

However, a U.S. diplomatic cable leaked by Wikileaks in 2011 spoke of a meeting between then presidential adviser Mustafa Osman Ismail and the top US diplomat in Sudan Alberto Fernandez in 2008.

In the context of seeking to normalize Sudan-US relations, Ismail told Fernandez that Khartoum drafted a strategy for working with the US with immediate, intermediate, and long-term goals.

As an example, he stated that one aspect of this strategy included normalization of relations with Israel, because "if things were going well with the U.S., you might be able to help us with Israel, as they are your closest ally in the region".

But Ismail later denied ever saying that and stressed that Sudan “refuses to cooperate with the Zionist entity altogether”.

(ST)

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