Sudan says it will discuss trade, migration deals with Israel

Sudan and Israel will discuss agreements to cooperate on trade and migration issues in the coming weeks, the Sudanese foreign ministry said on Sunday. (File/AFP)
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Updated 25 October 2020

Sudan says it will discuss trade, migration deals with Israel

  • The accord made Khartoum the third Arab government to establish relations with Israel in the last two months
  • Khartoum’s foreign ministry said Sudanese and Israeli delegations would meet in coming weeks to negotiate deals for agriculture, aviation, trade and migration

KHARTOUM/JERUSALEM: Sudan and Israel will discuss agreements to cooperate on trade and migration issues in the coming weeks, the Sudanese foreign ministry said on Sunday, signalling steps to implement a normalization pact after decades of hostilities.
The US-brokered accord made Khartoum the third Arab government to establish relations with Israel in the last two months, and only the fifth since 1948.
But prominent political factions in Sudan have rejected the accord. Some Sudanese officials have said it should be approved by a transitional parliament that has yet to be formed over a year after mass unrest ousted autocrat Omar Al-Bashir.
Khartoum’s foreign ministry said Sudanese and Israeli delegations would meet in coming weeks to negotiate deals for agriculture, aviation, trade and migration. It gave no details or time frame for the talks.
Israel is home to 6,284 Sudanese who it deems to be mostly illegal economic migrants. But its past efforts to repatriate them were stymied by the official state of hostilities with Sudan, as well as legal challenges in Israeli courts.
“I understand that they have already agreed on a pilot program, in the very near future, for several hundred (Sudanese to be repatriated),” Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told Ynet TV. “And I reckon that, after the hundreds, several thousand will come along too — or, to more correctly, several thousand will leave.”
But an Israeli Interior Ministry spokesman told Reuters it was not aware of such a deal.
The normalization deal is sensitive in Sudan, formerly a hard-line critic of Israel, dividing opinion among military and civilian leaders heading a post-Bashir transition.
The Sudanese premier wants approval from a yet-to-be formed parliament to proceed with a broader, formal normalization, and that may not be a quick process given civilian-military differences over the opening to Israel.
It remains unclear when the assembly will be constituted as part of the transition toward free elections.
An Oct. 15 report by Israel’s Intelligence Ministry projected deals in agriculture and desalination with Sudan. It also called for cooperation to prevent Sudanese soil being used by anti-Israel forces like Iran or Hamas.


Gaza gets vital medical aid as hospitals struggle with rising infections

Updated 29 November 2020

Gaza gets vital medical aid as hospitals struggle with rising infections

GAZA: The World Health Organization delivered 15 ventilators to Gaza hospitals on Sunday amid a spike in COVID-19 infections that has tested the Palestinian territory’s under-developed health system.
The donation of the intensive care devices, funded by Kuwait, came a week after local and international public health advisers said hospitals in the enclave could soon become overwhelmed.
“These devices will help medical teams provide better service to patients, but it is not enough,” said Abdullatif AlHajj of Gaza’s health ministry.
AlHajj said hospitals had suffered acute shortages in oxygen essential in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Gaza has logged nearly 20,000 coronavirus cases and 97 deaths, mostly since August, amid concern of a wider outbreak in the densely populated enclave of 2 million people, many of whom live in poverty.
The Gaza Health Ministry said 342 COVID-19 patients, of whom 108 are in critical condition, are being treated in the territory’s hospitals, which have been able to expand their intensive care units to 150 beds over the past week.
It said more than half of the territory’s 150 ventilators are in use.
“The health system right now can hold on for a few weeks after the expansion of beds,” said Abdelnaser Soboh, emergency health lead in the World Health Organization’s Gaza sub-office.
Soboh said Gaza is also experiencing severe shortages of medications and disposable equipment needed to treat COVID-19 patients.
Palestinians in Hamas Islamist-run Gaza say 13 years of economic sanctions by Israel and its border blockade have crippled their economy and undermined the development of medical facilities, weakening their ability to tackle a pandemic.
Israel, which cites security concerns for the border restrictions it imposes along with neighboring Egypt, says it has not limited the transfer of medical supplies to Gaza to fight the pandemic.