Officials say Israel, Sudan close to peace agreement

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, and Transportation Minister Miri Regev, left, tour Ben-Gurion Airport and are briefed on preparations for the resumption of flights, 20 km (12 mi)  southeast of Tel Aviv, Israel. (Emil Salman/Haaretz Pool via AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, and Transportation Minister Miri Regev, left, tour Ben-Gurion Airport and are briefed on preparations for the resumption of flights, 20 km (12 mi) southeast of Tel Aviv, Israel. (Emil Salman/Haaretz Pool via AP) (Emil Salman)

JERUSALEM – Israel and Sudan on Tuesday said they are close to reaching a peace agreement — setting the stage for a possible second dramatic diplomatic breakthrough for Israel with its Arab neighbors in a matter of days.

A Sudanese Foreign Ministry official announced that his government is “looking forward to concluding a peace agreement with Israel,” drawing a pledge from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “do all that's needed” to wrap up a deal.

The announcements came days after Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced an agreement to establish formal diplomatic ties.

While Sudan does not have the resources and influence of the UAE, it has a far more hostile history toward Israel.

Sudan hosted the landmark Arab conference after the 1967 Mideast war where eight Arab countries approved the “three no's": no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations.

In 1993, the U.S. designated Sudan a state sponsor of terrorism in part for its support of a number of anti-Israel militant groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah.

But in recent years those hostilities have softened, and both countries have expressed readiness to normalize relations.

Sky News Arabia quoted a Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying his government looked forward to a peace agreement “based on equality and Sudanese interests.”