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Five Important Points on the Normalization between Israel and Sudan

The peace agreement between Israel and Sudan and the Sudanese asylum seekers: some order in the mess:


 Until now, Israel based its non-expulsion policy for Sudanese asylum seekers on the fact that Sudan was an enemy state, but it is important to remember – for many years, Israel has had a similar non-expulsion policy for asylum seekers from Eritrea and the Democratic Republic of Congo, two countries with which Israel has full diplomatic relations. 


There are approximately 6,200 asylum seekers from Sudan living in Israel, of whom Israel has identified 4,400 as originating in the Darfur, Nuba Mountains, or Blue Nile regions – areas where genocide and ethnic cleansing that continue to this day. As of May 2018, asylum applications have been submitted by 5,119 Sudanese citizens, all of which are still pending.


Even if Israel chooses to repeal the non-expulsion policy for Sudanese asylum seekers, this change will not relieve the State of its obligation to rule on asylum applications submitted by Sudanese citizens. In a response to the High Court last month in a case regarding the failure of the asylum system, the State noted that in recent months there has been an escalation in Darfur and other areas, especially in East Sudan. The State further noted that the militias responsible for the recent attacks in Sudan consisted, among others, of people who carried out the original genocide in the early 2000’s. Finally, the State acknowledged that some of the attacks took place in refugee and displaced persons camps and led many to flee to neighboring Chad.


In September 2020, the State told the High Court that due to the unstable political situation in Sudan, which includes some positive changes as well as violent attacks by militias, the asylum applications of Sudanese citizens could not be decided at this stage. The only change that has taken place since then is the normalization of relations with Israel.  


Politicians’ statements calling for the expeditious deportation of thousands of asylum seekers contradict the State’s own position as presented to the court – and are nothing more than a smokescreen designed to obscure the State’s commitment to review asylum applications once and for all. The only remaining question is how the requests will be examined, in light of the irresponsible statements coming from the government.