Israelis march for peace in Tel Aviv in 2017. (Shutterstock) (Shutterstock)
peace

With Israeli diplomats optimistic, speculation centers on Sudan and Oman.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

Israeli diplomats are optimistic that another Arab country is on the verge of joining the Abraham Accords, according to Israel Hayom.

Recent reports center on Sudan and Oman as the most likely states to sign on.

On Wednesday, Israel’s Foreign Ministry confirmed a report by Walla News that Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll and Regional Affairs Minister Issawi Frej met with Sudanese Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari in Abu Dhabi. The Foreign Ministry said they agreed on future cooperation for training people for careers in high-tech.

But an Israel Hayom report earlier in the day suggested that the two countries are eyeing more than high-tech cooperation. The daily reported that the U.S. has engaged Sudan to complete its normalization of relations with Israel and is in talks with a second unspecified country to do the same.

Sudan signed onto the Abraham Accords in January, but never followed through with normalizing relations. Joining the Accords raised controversy in the East African state; Sudanese officials also said they were disappointed in what they described as insufficient U.S. investment that might have boosted popular support for peace.

For years, Sudan had close relations with Iran and served as a conduit for Iranian weapons-smuggling to Gaza. But in 2016, it broke diplomatic relations with Tehran. Sudan was removed from the State Department’s list of “State Sponsors of Terror” after joining the Abraham Accords.

A senior State Department official told Israel Hayom, “We are actively working to expand the Abraham Accords. I don’t intend to discuss any specific country, but we think there are tangible, economic and strategic advantages to all sides.”

The official added, “The Biden administration strongly supports countries that normalize relations with Israel… We believe these accords have shown there are real advantages to dismantling old obstacles and enhancing cooperation, particularly in ways that promote economic development and ties between people.”

Speculation has also centered on Oman.

Last week, in a briefing for journalists, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official specified the Gulf state as most likely to join the Accords, according to Hebrew media reports.

“With Oman, we have ongoing cooperation and plans,” said Eliav Benjamin, head of the ministry’s bureau of the Middle East and Peace Process Division. This included a water delivery project that Benjamin said would serve the Mideast.

Israel and Oman do not have formal diplomatic ties. But in 2018, then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a historic visit to the sultanate, prompting ten-foreign minister Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah to call for the Gulf state to recognize Israel.

But in July, Oman’s current foreign minister, Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Hamood Al Busaidi, said that while the Sultanate supports the Abraham Accords, it was not yet ready to join.

The UAE, Bahrain and Israel are the original members of the Abraham accords, which was signed in September, 2020. In December of that year, Morocco normalized ties with Israel as well through the framework of the Accords.