Sudan–Israel agreement; Ethiopian Jews "coming home": Israel Update

October 16, 2020

Sudan has reportedly decided to normalize ties with Israel, after the US issued a 24-hour ultimatum stipulating that Sudan must recognize Israel to get removed from a US blacklist. In addition to potentially taking Sudan off the list of states that sponsor terrorism, the US offer could increase aid to Sudan, help facilitate private investment in Sudan, remove Sudan from a list of travel ban countries, establish an investment conference in the country, and forgive billions of dollars of Sudanese debt owed to the US. A former Sudanese MP told The Times of Israel that he is attempting to organize a civilian delegation of Sudanese citizens to visit Israel in an effort to accelerate the normalization process.


The number of daily coronavirus cases in Israel continued to decline this week, following a month-long nationwide lockdown. Possibly inspired by this downward trend, Israel's coronavirus cabinet voted on Thursday to reopen small businesses that do not involve interaction with the public, such as kindergartens, take-out food services, and beaches. A ban restricting people to stay within one kilometer of their homes was also lifted. Over 300,000 virus cases have been diagnosed since the start of the pandemic—a number that includes 38,355 current cases, and 2,128 cases that resulted in death. 


On Monday, the Israeli Cabinet unanimously approved the US-brokered peace treaty with the United Arab Emirates, which was signed last month at the White House. To make clear the treaty had broad support in parliament, the Israeli government will grant it the same status as the historical agreements with Egypt and Jordan. The first official delegation to Israel from the United Arab Emirates is expected to arrive next Tuesday, though due to coronavirus concerns, the visit will likely be limited to the confines of Ben Gurion airport. In addition, a joint US-Israel delegation is planning an historic trip to Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, early next week.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has informed Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of his intention to "immediately" allow entry for some 2,000 Ethiopian Jews. Netanyahu’s office said the decision stemmed from the prime minister's "commitment to the continued aliyah of Jews to Israel.” Roughly 13,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Ethiopia, but the vast majority want to come to Israel. Many of these Ethiopian Jews live in dire conditions and have threatened mass hunger strikes if they’re not allowed to travel to their “homeland.” Israel’s Law of Return entitles all Jews the right of Israeli citizenship, but the return of Falash Mura—Ethiopian Jews whose ancestors converted to Christianity a century ago—has made the law a subject of contention.


The safety, health, and well-being of all community members is a priority for the Jewish Federation. Like many of you, we are closely monitoring the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic. This page has been developed to help our community stay informed and provide resources to help maintain a sense of connection. This page will be continually updated. 


Shabbat Shalom, 


Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC


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