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Palestinian and Peace Leaders Condemn Trump's Israel-Sudan Normalization Deal as 'Stab in the Back'

Critics say the U.S.-brokered agreement normalizes not only relations between the former foes, but also Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people.

President Donald Trump in the White House Oval Office after announcing an agreement between the U.S., Israel, and Sudan to normalize relations between Jerusalem and Khartoum. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump announces the U.S.-brokered normalization of relations between Israel and Sudan in the White House Oval Office on October 23, 2020. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images) 

While leaders of Israel, Sudan, and the United States hailed Friday's agreement to normalize relations between Jerusalem and Khartoum, Palestinian leaders condemned the deal as a betrayal of their people's struggle against more than 70 years of Israeli crimes. 

Reuters reports Sudan will become the third Arab nation after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to agree to a U.S.-brokered normalization agreement.

U.S. peace activist and CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin tweeted that the so-called "peace deal" is "designed to give Netanyahu a lift and help Trump's reelection, while betraying Palestinians and bolstering the campaign against Iran."

"It is a far cry from peace," she said. 

The three nations involved in the agreement issued a joint statement declaring that: 

In light of this historic progress, and following President [Donald] Trump's decision to remove Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, the United States and Israel agreed to partner with Sudan in its new start and ensure that it is fully integrated into the international community.

The United States will take steps to restore Sudan's sovereign immunity and to engage its international partners to reduce Sudan's debt burdens, including advancing discussions on debt forgiveness consistent with the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. The United States and Israel also committed to working with their partners to support the people of Sudan in strengthening their democracy, improving food security, countering terrorism and extremism, and tapping into their economic potential.

"This follows on Sudan's recent agreement to resolve certain claims of United States victims of terror and their families," a statement from Deputy White House Press Secretary Judd Deere said. He was referring to Sudan's payment of $335 million in victim compensation for its alleged role in the 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which were followed by American airstrikes against Afghan and Sudanese targets including a pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum.

Werner Daum, Germany's ambassador at the time, later said (pdf) the U.S. attack on the critical facility likely resulted in "several tens of thousands" of premature deaths. 

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the agreement heralds a "new era" for regional relations, "an era of true peace... that is expanding with other Arab countries." 

Netanyahu thanked Trump and his administration for their key role in brokering the deal, vowing Israeli and Sudanese leaders would soon hold talks on issues of mutal importance including "agriculture, trade, and other issues."

Reaction from Palestinian leaders and activists was decidedly different. 

"Sudan's joining others who normalized ties with the state of the Israeli occupation represents a new stab in the back of the Palestinian people and a betrayal of the just Palestinian cause," said Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Youssef added that Sudan's move "will not shake the Palestinians' faith in their cause and in continuing their struggle." 

Meanwhile in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesperson for the ruling Islamist organization Hamas, called the Sudanese government's decision to normalize relations with its former foe a step in "the wrong direction." 

"Sudan joining other countries in normalizing ties with the Israeli occupation will encourage the Zionist enemy to commit more crimes and more violations against the Palestinian people," Barhoum told Reuters

On Twitter, Palestinian-American journalist and author Ramzy Baroud condemned the deal, saying the Sudanese government "just sold out Palestine."

"They held long enough for the best deal they could get; but at the end, they crumbled before the mighty American dollar," he said.

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