After 63 years, Sudan ends boycott against Israel

The government cabinet decided to repeal the boycott law as an additional step for the expansion of ties between the countries. Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen called it "an important and necessary step toward the signing of a peace accord". There is also progress in Sudan's relations with the United States 

Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen with Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, in Khartoum, in January 2021. Photo from Eli Cohen's Twitter page

The Sudanese government cabinet decided Tuesday to cancel the country's Israel boycott law, which was legislated in 1958 and banned any diplomatic or business relations. The step requires final approval by a joint meeting of the government and the Sudanese Sovereignty Council, which serves as the country's legislative body, but it is only a formality. The official announcement released by the government noted its "firm position on the establishment of a Palestinian state within the framework of a two-state solution."

The cancellation of the boycott, an additional step following the decision on normalization between the countries in the framework of the Abraham Accords, will enable the expansion of ties between Israel and Sudan in many fields, without any legal restrictions. When the law was in effect, a Sudanese citizen who had ties with Israel faced a punishment of up to 10 years in prison or a very large fine. 

"It is an important and necessary step toward the signing of a peace accord between the countries," said Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen. "Cooperation will assist both Israel and Sudan as well as contribute to the stability of regional security, which is vital for economic development in the region. Sudan is one of the most important countries in Africa, and a peace treaty with it will strengthen our international stance and contribute to the stability and prosperity of the two countries." 

In the framework of the agreement for normalization of relations, the U.S. removed Sudan from its list of countries that sponsor terror. In addition, as part of the deal for the removal from the blacklist, Khartoum transferred last week $335 million intended to compensate survivors and the families of victims of terrorist attacks on American territory, including the attacks against the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 by Al-Qaeda, which was supported by the dictator Omar al-Bashir who even gave asylum to Osama bin Laden in the 1990s.       

"With this challenging process behind us, U.S.-Sudan relations can start a new chapter," U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in response. The U.S. also gave Sudan a loan of $1.15 billion in order to help it settle its debts to the World Bank and to start carrying out economic reforms.