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Israel pushes White House ceremony to seal Sudan normalization deal

Israel is encouraging the White Houseto host an official ceremony marking the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Sudan, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Trump administration brokered four normalization agreements between Israel and Arab countries, but the deal with Sudan is the only one that still needs to be anchored down.

  • While Israel has presented Sudan with a draft agreement for establishing diplomatic relations, the Sudanese want an endorsement from the Biden administration.

Driving the news: In recent weeks, President Biden’s senior Middle East advisers Brett McGurk and Barbara Leaf have spoken several times with their Israeli counterparts about ways to push forward the wider normalization process, Israeli officials told me.

  • One priority is determining which other Arab or Muslim countries could be next to normalize relations with Israel.
  • The Israelis pointed to Mauritania as a country that was close to normalizing relations in the last days of the Trump administration. Mauritania hoped to get economic incentives in return, but the clock ran out on Trump before a deal could be reached.

Yes, but: The Israelis told their White House counterparts that more work is still needed to stabilize the existing normalization deals, particularly the one with Sudan, Israeli officials tell me.

  • The Israelis believe that deal is nearly finished, but that a White House ceremony would be very helpful for the Sudanese government and provide an easy win for Biden.

Between the lines: The Biden administration wants to continue a process that began under Trump while securing achievements of its own through new deals.

  • The Biden administration is also not enthusiastic about Trump's name for the agreements: the “Abraham Accords.” The White House and State Department prefer to discuss “the normalization process."

What they're saying: A senior U.S. official told me it's premature to single out any particular countries, but confirmed there had been discussions with Israel about the opportunities that lie ahead on normalization. 

  • “Several of the newly established relationships between Israel and the four countries of the Abraham Accords are accelerating in their own right, and the U.S. will continue to encourage that dynamic," the U.S. official said.

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