Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu makes rare visit to Oman

Geraldine Edwards
October 28, 2018

The office said in a statement Friday that Netanyahu had been invited by Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said after lengthy communications.

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".

But there were few concrete details on his talks with Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

The surprise visit was an important accomplishment for the Israeli leader, who frequently boasts of warming behind-the-scenes contacts with Gulf Arab states.

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A Netanyahu spokesperson said the two sides discussed ways to achieve "peace and stability in the Middle East", adding that "the Prime Minister's visit is a significant step in implementing the policy outlined by Prime Minister Netanyahu on deepening relations with the states of the region while leveraging Israel's advantages in security, technology and economic matters". The only Arab states that recognize Israel are Jordan and Egypt.

Netanyahu arrived in Muscat on Thursday night at the head of a high-powered delegation that included among others Mossad director Yossi Cohen and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, and returned to Jerusalem later on Friday.

A senior Palestinian official said the sultan had offered to play a role mediating between the Palestinians and Israelis, and that Abbas had said he welcomes any "meaningful" peace process.

He added that Oman is "very optimistic" about US President Donald Trump's peace plan saying the "solution will be beneficial for Israelis and Palestinians alike".

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

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.

Abbas paid his visit to Oman on October 21-23, and called it "successfull on all levels" in an interview to Palestinian TV.

Israel Prime Ministers visited Oman in 1994 and 1996 around the time of the Oslo peace process.

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In another sign of improving relations, Israeli Sports Minister, Miri Regev flew to Abu Dhabi where Israel's judo team was participating in a major tournament.

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