Sultan of Oman receives Israel PM 'after prolonged contacts'

Glen Norman
October 28, 2018

Oman is offering ideas to help Israel and the Palestinians to come together but is not acting as mediator, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the sultanate's minister responsible for foreign affairs said.

Oman has no official diplomatic ties with Israel, although a slight warming in relations followed the Oslo Accords in the 1990s.

The statement said Sultan Qaboos had invited Netanyahu after "lengthy contacts between the two countries".

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Oman as an attempt to create rifts among Muslim states and "cover up its 70-year-long occupation of Palestine and the massacre of Palestinians".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Omani leader Sultan Qaboos. This was the first visit by Netanyahu to any Gulf state and the first such visit by any Israeli premier for more than two decades.

A joint statement said the two sides "discussed ways to advance the Middle East peace process" and "a number of issues of mutual interest to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East". "The Palestinians are taking a strong position against the Trump administration and Netanyahu and yet they have to talk to the Israelis".

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas also visited Oman this week, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

The Palestinians cut ties with the United States after the White House recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and then moved the American embassy there in May.

Netanyahu was accompanied by his wife Sara and his delegation included Mossad intelligence chief Yossi Cohen and National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat.

Netanyahu has repeatedly stated in recent years that Israel has developed good relations with several Arab states, despite a lack of official ties.

A Wikileaks cable from 2010 reported that Gulf states believed they could "count on Israel against Iran".

Oman closed the trade representative offices in October 2000 after the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada.

The meeting was the first between leaders of the two countries since then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres visited in 1996.

In another sign of warming ties between Israel and Arab states, Israel's judo team is set for the first time to participate at an global competition in the UAE under their national flag.

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