Sudan’s president says he was advised to recognize Israel to quell protests


(JTA) — Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said that he has been “advised” to normalize relations with Israel in order to keep  unrest rocking his country in check.

Bashir, who won 94 percent of the popular vote in a 2015 election that the opposition boycotted because they said it was rigged, met Thursday with Sufi Muslim leaders in Khartoum, according to the Turkish Andalou Agency.

The report did not say whether Bashir elaborated on who advised him and whether he intended to act on the advice. He referenced Israel while commenting on violent protests that have gripped the country in recent days, resulting in the death of at least 19 people.

In recent months, unnamed diplomatic sources in Israel have told the Israeli media of movement in bilateral ties with the North African country, where Israel is believed to have acted against terrorists that Bashir allegedly has allowed to operate on Sudanese soil.

On Saturday, Bashir told a local television station that he refused to grant permission for Kenya’s national airline to fly over Sudan’s airspace on the way to Israel and denied he would ever normalize relations with Israel, Haaretz reported. He added that an “American friend” suggested normalizing relations with Israel would solve Sudan’s problems, but added that the “Zionist lobby that controls Western countries” is behind sanctions on Sudan.

On Thursday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi confirmed that his army is working with Israel to fight the Islamic State in the northern Sinai.

“We have a wide range of cooperation with the Israelis,” al-Sisi said in the interview with the CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes” to be aired on Sunday.

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