Israeli PM Netanyahu makes secret visit to Oman

Saul Bowman
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.

Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife were invited by the sultan to visit after lengthy consultations between the two countries.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned on Friday from a surprise visit to Oman, in an apparent sign of growing Israeli-Arab normalization.

The two leaders discussed the Middle East peace process "and other issues of shared interest", it said in a statement released after Netanyahu returned from the first such visit by an Israeli premier for more than two decades.

The last meeting between leaders of the two nations was in 1996 when then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres visited Oman and Qatar. Palestinian reports indicated that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also paid a visit to Oman earlier this week.

"Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this", bin Alawi said.

"History and experience have proved that surrendering to the illegitimate demands of the United States and the Israeli regime will further embolden them to exert pressure and advance their agenda in the region and to ignore the inalienable rights of the Palestinian nation", Iran's Press TV quoted Qassemi as saying.


Oman's unique position in the region could also see it potentially play a role in mediating tensions between Israel and Iran, especially related to Syria.

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

Netanyahu has on several occasions hinted at warmer ties with Gulf states.

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

Netanyahu has always been seeking alliances with other Arab states which, like Israel, face an emboldened Iran, stressing that such ties could enable peace with the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Israel's Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev on Friday arrived in the UAE for the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Judo tournament in which Israel's national team is competing.

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