Sudan’s military said Wednesday it backed a surprise meeting between the country’s leader and Israel’s prime minister in Uganda this week, saying the opening would help boost national security.
General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, chairman of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Entebbe on Monday in a previously unannounced meeting.
Israel remains technically at war with Sudan, which supported hardline Islamists including Al-Qaeda during the three-decade rule of autocrat Omar al-Bashir, ousted amid mass protests last year.
On Tuesday, Burhan briefed the sovereign council and top ministers about his meeting, saying he took the step to meet Netanyahu “to protect the national security of Sudan”.
The vote of support for Burhan from the military came after top officers met at army headquarters in Khartoum.
“There was a meeting at the army headquarters today, and those present in the meeting were briefed about the visit of the army’s commander to Uganda and its impact on Sudan’s national security,” military spokesman Brigadier Amir Mohamed Al-Hassan told AFP.
“The army is in favour of this (Burhan-Netanyahu) meeting as it is in the interest of Sudan’s national security.”
Soon after the meeting Netanyahu’s office put out a statement saying that said he believed that post-Bashir Sudan was headed “in a positive direction”.
It said he and Burhan had “agreed to start cooperating leading to normalisation of the relationship between the two countries”.
Sudan under Bashir was part of the decades-long Arab boycott of Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians and occupation of Arab lands.
In the wake of the Six-Day War of 1967 in which Israel occupied the Palestinian territories and seized the Golan Heights from Syria, Arab leaders held a historic meeting in Khartoum to announce what became known as the ‘three nos’ — no peace, no recognition, no negotiations with Israel.
The Palestine Liberation Organization called Burhan and Netanyahu’s meeting “a stab in the back of the Palestinian people”.
In a statement carried on official news agency WAFA, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Netanyahu and his US allies of “trying to liquidate the Palestinian cause”.