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Israel seeks peacemaking role in Sudan conflict with invitation to peace summit

As the US announced a 72-hour ceasefire, Israel extended offer to host the warring factions in a joint meeting

Sudan's sovereign council head General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan meets Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in Khartoum, Sudan Feb. 2, 2023. (Photo: Sudan Sovereignty Council Press Office/Handout via REUTERS)

As U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday announced a 72-hour ceasefire between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the Republic of Sudan, Israel offered to host a peace summit for the two factions. 

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen invited the commander of the Sudanese army, General Burhan, and the commander of the rival RSF militia, General Hamidi, to a joint meeting in order to try to reach an Israeli-mediated permanent ceasefire agreement.

“Since the fighting started in Sudan, Israel has been working in different channels in order to reach a ceasefire. The progress we have made with the two parties is very encouraging. If there is a way in which Israel can help stop the war and violence in that country, we would be very happy to do so,” Cohen said. 

Fighting broke out between the two groups 11 days ago, with much of the conflict reportedly happening in the capital city of Khartoum. 

Many countries, such as the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom, have already evacuated their diplomatic staff from Sudan, while other countries are trying to do so. 

Blinken said the U.S “will coordinate with regional and international partners, and Sudanese civilian stakeholders, to assist in the creation of a committee to oversee the negotiation.” 

Israel’s offer to host a peace summit appears to be a part of those efforts. While neither the U.S. nor the Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs explicitly stated this, a Foreign Ministry official said Israel had communicated its desire to host a peace summit with the U.S. Biden administration. 

Israel and Sudan agreed to normalize relations in 2020 as part of the historic Abraham Accords. The two countries have since made significant steps over the last two years, especially after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition assumed power. 

Cohen visited Khartoum in February, where he warned that it would be difficult to advance peace between the two groups without a civilian government. A government official said Israel believed the two sides were close to an agreement on a civilian government and was surprised when fighting erupted between them.

"Since my visit to Khartoum three months ago – a visit whose purpose was to bring about the signing of a historic peace agreement between Israel and Sudan – we have been in contact with various parties in Sudan in order to promote relations between the countries,” Cohen said on Monday. 

An Israeli Foreign Ministry official told reporters that Israel was in contact with both sides since the outbreak of fighting and had encouraged both groups to stop the conflict and resume negotiations. The official also confirmed that ties with SAF are managed separately by the Foreign Ministry, while the Mossad manages ties with the RSF militia. 

Last week, Israeli officials told the Axios media outlet they were concerned the conflict would prevent the formation of a civilian government and put an end to the full implementation of a peace agreement between Israel and Sudan. 

Sudan is currently ruled by military commander General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the SAF. The leader of the RSF militia is General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti.

Both leaders held senior positions in the military government that took over after the coup against Omar al-Bashir. The two were supposed to merge their groups into one, but the RSF resisted the merger and the ensuing conflict escalated into fighting. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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