Iran slams Netanyahu's visit to Oman

Hannah Rogers
October 28, 2018

Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, had said in his speech before the UN General Assembly on September 29, 2018 that the current conditions, despite their difficulty and despite the halt of dialogue, have become suitable for founding an environment for positive discussions between the Palestinian and Israeli sides towards a comprehensive settlement based on the two-states solution.

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

"The Palestinian side welcomes any Arab or global effort to revive the peace process, but does not think that Oman has a magic wand capable of doing what the Americans and the others could not do", a Palestinian source said. The meeting was the first between leaders of the two countries since 1996.

An unnamed Israeli official said to be familiar with details of Netanyahu's visit told The New York Times that as Oman is perceived as a fair mediator to all Middle East countries, the trip could lead to further diplomatic openings for Israel.

Israel does not have formal diplomatic relations with Oman, like with most Arab states.

Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa voiced support for Oman over the sultanate's role in trying to secure Israeli-Palestinian peace, while Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Adel Al-Jubeir said the kingdom believes the key to normalizing relations with Israel was the peace process.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, and his counterparts in Italy and Germany also participated in the three-day summit. Mahmoud Abbas visited Oman recently and both parties [the Israelis and Palestinians] have now mentioned Oman as a potential facilitator of the peace process. Trump later withdrew the USA from the accord earlier this year.

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The office said in a statement Friday that Netanyahu had been invited by Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said after lengthy communications. The past few years showed clearly that there is no way but to reach a comprehensive, fair and permanent peace that achieves security and stability, not only for the Palestinian people, but also for the Israeli people and the region as a whole, since the solution of the Palestinian issue is central to peace and stability in the region so that its people could face the various challenges that face them now.

In September, Netanyahu said Israel and some Arab countries have forged closer relationships following the global deal agreed upon in 2015 between Iran and six world powers, including the United States.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said: "We are thinking of the families of those who were murdered and praying for the quick recovery of those who were injured". Former Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin made a similar surprise visit to Oman two years earlier in 1994.

The unannounced meeting in Muscat with Sultan Qaboos represents a major achievement for Netanyahu, who has sought to develop secret relations with Arab states despite the absence of peace talks with Palestinians.

In 1995, then Prime Minister Shimon Peres hosted Omani Foreign Minister Yousef bin Alawi in Jerusalem.

Muscat, however, suspended relations again following the outbreak of the second Palestinian Intifada in 2000.

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