President Trump made his first known comment about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Wednesday evening, announcing on Twitter that Israel would be moving from a state of “favor to normalization” with Sudan, after decades of hostilities.
He said the move would strengthen the United States and Israel.
The U.S. government suspended its trade sanctions against Sudan in October 2013. It recognized the government of President Omar al-Bashir last September and has lifted asset freezes and travel bans.
Mr. Trump’s tweet came amid growing strain between the United States and Israel. In recent days, Trump has repeatedly criticized President Benjamin Netanyahu’s “crazy” nuclear deal with Iran.
The sudden burst of activity in Sudan seemed a response to Mr. Netanyahu’s decision earlier in the day to open the side of Israel’s border with Egypt to hundreds of Central African migrants who crossed illegally into Israel from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.
Many of the migrants came from Sudan, where Sudanese leaders have been battling unrest and terrorist attacks that have occurred largely in the country’s troubled Darfur region.
Mr. Bashir has been accused of serious human rights abuses in Darfur and has been accused by the United Nations of war crimes. Mr. Trump, however, has praised Mr. Bashir.
The Twitter comments, however, appeared to be based more on domestic politics than foreign policy.
He came into office promising to improve relations with Israel, despite the frosty relationships of his predecessor, Barack Obama. However, he has also irritated Mr. Netanyahu with repeated remarks critical of the deal to cap Iran’s nuclear program, which the United States helped broker with international partners.
Mr. Netanyahu has been openly critical of a deal to freeze Israel’s settlement of the West Bank. Mr. Trump has repeatedly moved toward endorsing a two-state solution, which is widely viewed as only possible with an Israeli-Palestinian deal.