Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu makes rare visit to Oman

28 October, 2018, 08:34 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • IDF Military Intelligence Director Major General Aviv Kochavi

The last such Israeli visit occurred in 1996, when former prime minister Shimon Peres traveled to Oman to meet with the sultan and open an Israel Trade Representation office.

The sultanate has long had a low-key role in fostering negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.

"A special visit in Oman - we're making history!"

Sports Minister Miri Regev arrived on Friday for the event's opening ceremony in Abu Dhabi, marking the first time an Israeli minister has visited the UAE in an official capacity.

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

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The official visit of Mahmud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, to the Sultanate on October 22, 2018 and the audience accorded to him by His Majesty the Sultan constitute a significant step with regard to Oman's efforts to support the stand of the Palestinian side's quest for a peaceful, fair and comprehensive solution and for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital-all within the framework of the two-states' solution which is supported by the global community.

Oman closed its offices in Israel in 2000 after the outbreak of the second Palestinian Intifada.

Israel now has full diplomatic relations with only two Arab states, Egypt and Jordan.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been stalled for almost a decade and US President Donald Trump's much vaunted peace plan is yet to be released.

Israel and the Palestinians have not held substantive peace talks for the past decade. We stand together with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. Relations soured further when the U.S. cut funding to the UN's refugee agency for Palestinians and booted the Palestine Liberation Organization from its Washington office. All have further alienated the Palestinians.

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Arab states, including Oman, remain publicly committed to calls for a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.

"Israel benefits by having a direct link with a member of Arab League, and the Palestinians are benefiting from having the help of Oman reaching out to Israelis without directly conceding anything".

Sultan Qaboos has managed to steer his country through choppy regional politics with a policy of non-interference, helping broker the release of Western hostages in Yemen and providing a back door for communications between Washington and Tehran under the Obama administration.

Netanyahu often comments on the warming ties between Israel and its Arab neighbors, citing Iran's behavior on the region is one of the reasons. But he rarely publicizes these contacts or identifies his partners.

In 1994, then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin visited Oman, where he was greeted by the sultan.

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The following month, Omani officials joined their Arab counterparts from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain at the White House for a meeting with Israeli national security officials to discuss the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

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