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Sudan’s Normalization Deal with Israel Faces Hurdles

President Donald Trump speaks while on a phone call with the leaders of Sudan and Israel in the Oval Office of the White House, Oct. 23, 2020, in Washington.

Sudan on Friday became the third state to move toward normalizing relations with Israel. But unlike Israel’s recent deal with Abu Dhabi where hotels are already promoting packages for Israeli tourists, the deal with Sudan still faces several hurdles, including some public opposition.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the normalization deal with Sudan.

Netanyahu called it a dramatic breakthrough to peace and said the famous three “no’s” from Sudan in 1967 – no to peace with Israel, no to negotiations with Israel, and no normalization with Israel, turned into three yeses.

Sudan had rejected Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and said Israel must withdraw from all of those areas to make a Palestinian state.

Sudan follows the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain into making peace deals with Israel, with U.S. President Donald Trump saying at least five more are on the way, with Israel hoping that Saudi Arabia, with its huge economy and oil reserves, is one of them.

In Sudan, the situation is a little more complicated. Many Sudanese oppose the normalization of ties with Israel, with demonstrators burning Israeli flags on the streets of Khartoum.

Sudan is also in the process of transitioning form a dictatorship to a democracy. Foreign Minister Omar Gamareldin said that a peace deal with Israel would have to be ratified by a legislative council – a body which does not yet exist. It is not clear when the council will be formed.

For Israel, normalization with Sudan would have important military benefits, says former Israeli Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren.

“The vast majority of rockets that are fired at us from Gaza are not made in Gaza, they’re made in Iran. And they get into Gaza by the Sudan," Oren said. "And our peace relationship with Sudan would have an immediate impact in stemming the flow of made in Iran missiles into the Gaza strip. I assume if missiles are getting in, money is getting in, other things are getting in, and it will be very difficult now for Hamas and Islamic Jihad to import Iranian weapons and other materials through the Sudan. And that would be extremely important to us.”

The Palestinians have condemned the Arab outreach to Israel as “a new stab in the back” for them.

As part of the deal, Washington also agreed to take Sudan off the list of organizations that support state terrorism.