On Monday, Sudan cleared a 20th-century law off the books, ending a decades-old boycott of Israel and opening the way for commerce and travel between the two nations in the 21st century. And as a result of last year’s Abraham Accords, Moroccan and Israeli officials met Tuesday to discuss opening doors for joint ventures between the countries.
While Sudan is not in close proximity to Israel, it has played at least a symbolic role over the years in the Middle East conflict. Sudan maintains connections with Hamas and Hezbollah, militant groups backed by Iran, and Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, served as the host for the 1967 Arab League summit.
Before that, in 1958, Sudan, like many Arab nations at the time, made it illegal for anyone to do business with Israel or visit there. An offense was punishable by a fine and up to 10 years in prison.
Sudan’s Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari reported in a Twitter post this week that the 1958 law has been annulled. Sudan moved to normalize relations with Israel last year as part of its journey toward democracy and better relations with the United States.
With the boycott law abolished, the Sudanese people can now do business with Israel, as well as visit the estimated 6,000 Sudanese living in Israel.
On Tuesday, Ofir Akunis, Minister of Regional Cooperation for Israel, and Abdel Rahim-Biod, head of the Moroccan embassy in Israel and designated ambassador, met to discuss the recent peace agreement entered into last year by their nations.
“The agreement between the two countries has enormous potential in the fields of trade, economy, tourism, technology, and innovation. The agreement fundamentally changes the political situation in our region, creating an entirely new atmosphere in the Middle East,” Akunis said.
Many Israelis are of Moroccan descent, such as my wife Elana and all her relatives (a lot of relatives!). Most don’t know it, but Moroccan Jewish Israelis are the second largest ethnic group in Israel. And they are the best cooks!
“This historic peace agreement between the two countries has greatly pleased the Moroccan people who love Israel,” Rahim-Biod said. “Jewish tradition is an integral part of Moroccan culture.”
Rahim-Biod hopes a direct line of air travel will open up in the near future and “strengthen tourism relations” and other joint ventures.