Israel officially recognizes South Sudan
Following South Sudan's declaration of independence on Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially recognized the new country in a statement during Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting, Xinhua reported.
"I hereby announce that Israel recognizes the Republic of South Sudan," Netanyahu said, "we wish it success. This is a peace- seeking country and we would be pleased to cooperate with it in order to ensure its development and its prosperity. Greetings to South Sudan."
Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai called on Israel to immediately begin negotiations with the new nation in order to speed the return of thousands of Sudanese refugees and migrant workers who illegally entered the country over the past several years, the Ha'aretz newspaper reported.
Around 600 of the 1,600 South Sudanese in Israel, most of them refugees, are scheduled to return soon to their new country in two flights.
Sudan has been battered by two civil wars over more than half a century. The later one, from 1983 to 2005, was the longest civil war in Africa.
During the referendum to decide the fate of unity or division of Sudan in January this year, nearly 99 percent of the voters approve the secession of the south from Sudan. The result was recognized by the Sudanese government and the international community, paving the way for the south's independence on July 9.