First Morocco, then Sudan: Netanyahu Intensifies Normalization Efforts with more Arab Countries

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita. (Photo: File)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

Amid the ongoing Israeli efforts to normalize ties with African countries, Tel Aviv has been intensifying its diplomatic relations with Sudan and Morocco over the last week.

On February 4, Israeli media reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been lobbying the United States to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the occupied Western Sahara region, in exchange for a normalization of ties with Rabat.

Although the two countries have no official diplomatic relations, “contacts between Netanyahu and the Moroccans started getting more serious after a secret meeting with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September 2018,” according to American news website Axios.

Meanwhile, Sudan had agreed to allow flights to Israel to cross its airspace, Reuters news agency reported Wednesday.

This comes two days after Sudan’s top military official Abdel Fattah al-Burhan held a surprise meeting with Netanyahu in Uganda. 

Burhan currently serves as the head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, a transitional ruling body made up of civilian and military figures.

The visit stirred controversy in the African country, generating tensions between the military and civilian groups, with Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok declaring that “all decisions related to Sudan’s foreign affairs “should be made” exclusively by his Cabinet”, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

Defiant, the Sudanese military responded with a statement Wednesday in which it described the meeting as being in “the highest interests of national security and of Sudan.”

Sudan’s military spokesman Amer Mohamed al-Hassan told Al Jazeera that “Sudan has not announced full normalization (with Israel), but it is exchanging interests”.

“From Uganda, Netanyahu declared that Israel and Sudan were working towards normalizing relations.” Haaretz also reported. 

“For Israel, it was a major diplomatic breakthrough with a Muslim-majority African state.”

“The continent’s rapprochement with Israel is unfortunate, because, for decades, Africa has stood as a vanguard against all racist ideologies, including Zionism – the ideology behind Israel’s establishment on the ruins of Palestine,” wrote Palestinian journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle Ramzy Baroud.

“If Africa succumbs to Israeli enticement and pressure to fully embrace the Zionist state, the Palestinian people would lose a treasured partner in their struggle for freedom and human rights,” Baroud added.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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