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Khartoum’s position towards Palestinian issue will remain firm, says al-Burhan

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The head of Sudan’s sovereign council on Tuesday confirmed that he held a meeting with the Israeli prime minister in Uganda on Monday.

Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said in a statement the responsibility of discussing Sudanese-Israeli relations and developing them are the responsibility of concerned authorities, in an apparent reference to the cabinet.

Khartoum’s position towards the Palestinian issue and the right of Palestinians to set up their independent state “remained and will remain firm,” said Burhan.

ALSO READ: Sudan casts doubt on early normalization with Israel

Earlier on Monday, the Palestinian leadership condemned the meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sudanese leader al-Burhan, labelling it a “stab in the back.”

“This meeting is a stab in the back of the Palestinian people... at a time when the administration of (US) President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu are trying to liquidate the Palestinian cause,” Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization said in a statement carried on official news agency WAFA.

Sudan’s cabinet said on Monday it had not been informed in advance about the Uganda meeting, news of which sparked protests in Khartoum.

Burhan is the most senior figure in the first phase of a power-sharing arrangement between the military and civilian parties in Sudan that began last August, following the overthrow of long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir.

A joint meeting between the sovereign council and cabinet on Tuesday also agreed that any step related to relations with Israel should be discussed and approved by cabinet, sources who attended the meeting told Reuters.

Bilateral relations between Sudan and Israel have never been normalized, and doing so would likely raise hackles in Sudan and the wider Arab world, especially at a time when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is promoting a US peace plan rejected by Palestinians.

But Sudan is also anxious to rebuild links with the outside world after decades of isolation under Bashir, and to be removed from a US list of countries considered state sponsors of terrorism.

Sudan’s cabinet on Tuesday discussed Burhan and Netanyahu’s meeting, which Israeli officials said lasted two hours in the city of Entebbe in central Uganda.

It also held consultations with leaders of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FCC), an alliance that fronted protests that toppled Omar al-Bashir last year, sources said.

FCC leaders also held discussions with the sovereign council, the sources added. The alliance in a statement accused Burhan of making “a major breach” of the country’s constitutional declaration.

Scores of protesters gathered outside the government headquarters on Tuesday, condemning Burhan’s meeting with Netanyahu, Reuters witnesses said.

“The betrayal that was represented in the meeting with the head of the Zionist entity, is a dagger in the heart of the Sudanese people,” said Tarek Babakr, one of the protesters.

The US terrorism listing has impeded badly needed international financial assistance and commercial activity in Sudan.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked Burhan by phone “for his leadership in normalizing ties with Israel,” his spokesperson said on Monday, and Washington has invited Burhan to visit later this year.