There are various examples of how so-called ‘terrorist’ states or leaders can suddenly become clean simply through the normalising of ties with Israel.

Life could be difficult or even terrible for you depending on the degree of your opposition to Israel. 

But being on the right side of the country can make your life easier than ever as some Arab countries, like Sudan, have recently realised in the wake of normalising its relations with the Jewish state.

Before officially recognising Israel as a state, Sudan was on the famous, or rather infamous, US list of states that supported terrorism or terrorist groups. Khartoum has a history of hosting notable characters like Osama Bin Laden. By normalising relations with Israel, Sudan has instantly steered itself out of the woods, as Washington quickly returned the favour by removing the country from its terror list. 

“If you normalise diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv then you are no longer an enemy. Israel opens its arms wide to Arabs, who consider Israel a peaceful state,” says Yousef Alhelou, a Palestinian political analyst, referring to recent normalisation announcements from countries like the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. 

“We can see almost every day videos of citizens of some Arab states in the Gulf show themselves in Israel and listen to Israeli songs, exchanging greetings on Twitter, even dancing together and encouraging their fellow citizens to visit Israel,” Alhelou tells TRT World, describing how happy Israel’s new friends are after the normalisation deal. 

Israeli, US officials on historic flight to the UAE to formalise normalisation deal. An Emirati man, wearing a protective mask with American, Israeli and Emirati flags, looks on upon the arrival of US and Israeli delegates in Abu Dhabi, August 31, 2020.
Israeli, US officials on historic flight to the UAE to formalise normalisation deal. An Emirati man, wearing a protective mask with American, Israeli and Emirati flags, looks on upon the arrival of US and Israeli delegates in Abu Dhabi, August 31, 2020. (Christopher Pike / Reuters Archive)

Interesting fact about Sudan is that the country was not removed from the US list after a difficult revolution, which brought a kind of democratic governance, ousting the old autocratic regime led by Omar Bashir last year.  

The signs of democratisation shown by Sudan, however, did not appear to mean much to the US, which champions liberal democracy and has waged wars to impose electoral politics in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Although Khartoum made attempts to de-link its normalisation with Israel from the terror delisting in the US, it reportedly threatened Washington by suggesting that its embrace of Tel Aviv was subservient to its removal from the terrorism list, according to The New York Times. 

Clearly, Sudan was not the first example and probably won't be the last either.

Arafat and PLO

Long before Sudan’s recognition of Israel, Yasser Arafat, one of the co-founders of the Fatah movement, which is the leading group inside the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), had been constantly labelled as a terrorist leader by Israel and its allies for decades. 

But the same Arafat, or let’s say a changing Arafat, who accepted to backtrack from some of the PLO’s core demands during the Oslo peace process in the 1990s, gained considerable legitimacy across the world after he signed the Oslo Accords with the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin.

Sept. 28, 1995 file photo shows President Bill Clinton gesturing toward Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, left, and PLO leader Yasser Arafat shaking hands in the East Room of the White House after the Mideast accord signing.
Sept. 28, 1995 file photo shows President Bill Clinton gesturing toward Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, left, and PLO leader Yasser Arafat shaking hands in the East Room of the White House after the Mideast accord signing. (Doug Mills / AP Archive)

In 1994, Arafat, along with Rabin and the then-Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, received the Nobel Peace Prize for their role in developing the Palestine-Israel peace process. 

“Accusations of terrorism is a political tool used by the powerful countries to dominate weaker countries. It’s an elastic term, which is defined based on interest,” says Abir Kopty, a Palestinian writer and academic.  

“Arafat and the PLO is a perfect example of how this tool serves for the longer term: they stamp a party with terrorism to serve their interests, and when time comes, this becomes a tool to pressure them to agree for the terms of the powerful,” Kopty tells TRT World.

Now Arafat’s PLO is the leading governmental force in Ramallah, the capital city of the West Bank, which is an Israeli-occupied Palestinian enclave. 

The PLO had been considered a terrorist organisation by the US and Israel until the Madrid Conference in 1991. After the PLO recognised Israel in 1994, Tel Aviv accepted the Palestinian group as the legitimate political representative of the Palestinians. 

But other Palestinian resistance groups like Hamas should continue to stay as terrorist organisations until their recognition of Israel as a legitimate state, according to Tel Aviv and its allies. 

Hamas, which continues to defend an armed resistance against Israel, being an opposition party to the PLO, is considered as a terrorist group by Israel, the US and the EU. 

Source: TRT World