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Israel, Sudan agree to normalize relations in deal brokered with help of US: 'Accomplishment for the White House'


This is the third Arab country to normalize relations with Israel in recent weeks

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Israel and Sudan announced that they had normalized relations in a deal that was brokered with the help of the United States. Sudan becomes the third Arab country to normalize relations with Israel in recent weeks, along with U.S.-brokered agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which were the first nations in the Middle East to recognize Israel in 26 years.

President Donald Trump made the announcement of the agreement on Friday from the Oval Office at the White House. President Trump was on a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and Transitional Council Head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, senior U.S. officials told Reuters.

"The leaders agreed to the normalization of relations between Sudan and Israel and to end the state of belligerence between their nations," according to a joint statement issued by the three countries. "In addition, the leaders agreed to begin economic and trade relations, with an initial focus of agriculture."

During the call, President Trump took a shot at his presidential opponent Joe Biden.

Trump jokingly asked Netanyahu, "Do you think Sleepy Joe could have made this deal?"

Israel's prime minister diplomatically responds, "We appreciate the help for peace from anyone in America."

As part of the agreement, President Trump will notify Congress of his intent to remove Sudan's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, which lifted sanctions against Sudan and will allow international financial assistance into the country. Trump signed the document to remove Sudan from the list while flying on Air Force One on Thursday night following the final presidential debate, according to a senior U.S. official.

Sudan has been listed as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993 when al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden lived in the country as a guest of the government.

Earlier this week, Sudan's new government paid $335 million to the victims of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The terror attacks killed more than 220 people.

The U.S. side of the negotiations was led by Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner, Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz, national security adviser Robert O'Brien, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and national security official Miguel Correa.

"This is obviously a great breakthrough," Kushner told Reuters. "This is obviously going to create a big breakthrough peace between Israel and Sudan. Getting peace agreements done are not as easy as we are making them look right now. They are very hard to do."

Pundits noted that this agreement is a big step in the process of peace in the Middle East. Oren Liebermann, CNN correspondent based in Jerusalem, noted that the agreement is a "significant statement" and "certainly a foreign policy accomplishment for the White House."

Not everyone was excited about the developments of potential peace in the Middle East. MSNBC host Chris Hayes downplayed the most recent agreement between Sudan and Israel.

"It's kind of hilarious that in end, the one thing Jared Kushner actually did get done was brokering a bunch of (incredibly cynical and transactional) middle east deals," Hayes tweeted.

During the news conference, President Trump said the agreement cost the United States "nothing." Trump also said that there are "at least five" countries who want to "come into the peace deal."

In September, Trump touted that there were "at least five or six countries" that could potentially make peace with Israel in the near future. Before the signing ceremony for the Abraham Accords at the White House last month, Trump said, "We're very far down the road with about five additional countries ... frankly, I think we could have had them here today."

"They want to see peace," Trump said. "They've been fighting for a long time. They're tired. They're warring countries but they're tired, they're tired of fighting. So you're going to be seeing further announcements."

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