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Netanyahu Says Israeli Planes Have Started Overflying Sudan

Netanyahu Says Israeli Planes Have Started Overflying Sudan

Monday, 17 February, 2020 - 06:00
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat

Israeli commercial planes have started overflying Sudan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, casting the new air corridor as the result of a breakthrough meeting with the African country’s de-facto leader this month.


Khartoum said on Feb. 5 it had given Israeli planes initial approval to fly over its territory, two days after Sudan’s military head of state, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, met Netanyahu in Uganda.


“Now we’re discussing rapid normalization. The first Israeli airplane passed yesterday over the skies of Sudan,” Netanyahu said in a speech to US Jewish leaders, saying the route cut some three hours off flights from Israel to South America.


Sudan, mindful of pro-Palestinian sensitivities, has stopped short of saying it is normalizing ties with Israel.


The corridor described by Netanyahu would also take planes over Egypt, which made peace with Israel in 1979, and Chad, which in 2018 restored long-severed relations with Israel.


Normalizing relations with Sudan would allow Netanyahu to burnish his diplomatic credentials a month before Israel’s March 2 election.


Since their meeting, the air corridor is the most prominent development that has been discussed publicly by both sides.


Israeli commentators have speculated that the new contacts with Khartoum could allow for the repatriation of illegal Sudanese migrants in Israel, and that Israel could in turn lobby the United States to improve Sudan’s standing in Washington.


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