Khartoum (ANN)-Sudan’s ruling council chief says Khartoum’s stance on the issue of Palestine will “remain firm,” and that his secret talks with the Israeli premier were meant to “protect national security,” amid anger at home against what is largely seen as a radical change in the African state’s longtime anti-occupation foreign policy.
Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the chairman of Sudan’s ruling council, made the remarks in a brief statement released on Tuesday after he met the body and top ministers.
“I took this step from the standpoint of my responsibility… to protect the national security of Sudan and achieve the supreme interests of the Sudanese people,” he said.
Burhan sat down for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda in a meeting reportedly arranged by the United Arab Emirates.
It was only made public when the Israeli premier took to Twitter to claim that an agreement had been reached with Sudan to “begin cooperation that will lead to the normalization of relations.”
However, the Sovereign Council of Sudan — a joint civilian-military cabinet running state affairs since September 2019 — said the cabinet had not been informed in advance about the meeting and only learned of it through media reports.
Elsewhere in his statement, Burhan cast doubt on any rapid normalization of Sudan’s ties with Israel, emphasizing that “concerned institutions” were responsible for the matter, apparently referring to Sudan’s civilian cabinet.
“I stress that examining and developing relations between Sudan and Israel is the responsibility of the concerned institutions, as according to (Sudan’s) constitutional declaration,” he said.
The Sudanese leader further claimed that Khartoum’s position towards the Palestine issue remains unchanged.
“I also confirm that Sudan’s principled stance on the Palestinian issue and the right of its people to an independent state is and will remain firm, in keeping with Arab consensus and Arab League resolutions,” he said.
Israel has no formal diplomatic relations with Sudan, where public and government support for the Palestinian cause runs strong. The Khartoum-Tel Aviv relationship has historically been hostile.
‘A dagger in the heart of Sudan’
On Tuesday, protesters gathered outside the government headquarters in Khartoum to denounce the Netanyahu-Burhan meeting and the idea of normalization of ties.
“The betrayal that was represented in the meeting with the head of the Zionist entity, is a dagger in the heart of the Sudanese people,” said Tarek Babakr, one of the demonstrators.
Additionally, Abdullahi Yousif, an influential religious man and politician, stressed that Burhan is not allowed to meet with Netanyahu without authorization from other officials.
The Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) also criticized the Uganda meeting as “a stab in the back” of the nation.
“What happened at the meeting between Burhan and Netanyahu is a stab in the back of Sudanese people’s struggle against imperialists and also their continuous position in supporting the Palestinians,” SCP spokesman Fathi Fadoul said in a video posted on the party’s Facebook page.
“We also condemn the statement from the cabinet. The cabinet has to say directly what its position is about the meeting rather than saying it was not notified about it,” he added.
Similarly, the Forces for Freedom and Change (FCC), an alliance that fronted protests that toppled Sudan’s long-time president Omar al-Bashir last year, accused Burhan of making “a major breach” of the country’s constitutional declaration.
Moreover, the Sudanese Journalists’ Union said the meeting marked “a black day” for the African country and was “the deepest stab in the back and heart of the Sudanese people, who have always been supportive of the Palestinian cause.”
“We, the Sudanese journalists, will be at the forefront of those who reject this failed and defeated normalization step of treachery,” it said in a statement.
Sudanese political analyst Alfatih Mahmoud also said Netanyahu and Burhan are pursuing their own agendas.
“Netanyahu is promoting the ‘deal of the century’ in Africa generally and the Muslim community specifically,” said Mahmoud, referring to an anti-Palestine Middle East schemed drawn up by the US and unveiled last month.
“He is also looking for a permit to pass by Sudanese airspace and to make credits inside Israel, while Burhan is pursuing international financial support and [the] lifting [of] Sudan from United States’ state sponsors of terrorism list,” he said.