Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu makes rare visit to Oman

Sultan of Oman receives Israel PM 'after prolonged contacts'
Israel's Netanyahu makes surprise, unpublicized visit to Oman
Author

28 October, 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday returned from an unannounced visit to Oman, the two countries confirmed, meeting the Gulf state's leader in the first visit of its kind in over 20 years.

He warned Muslim countries not to allow Tel Aviv to create "further trouble for the region".

The Iranian spokesman said U.S. President Donald Trump has been piling pressures on Islamic states to normalize ties with Israel.

Among the issues discussed were how to advance the Middle East peace process, along with several matters of common interest, according to the prime minister's office.

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

The foreign minister's remarks followed a clandestine visit to Oman by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu which came only days after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited the Gulf monarchy.

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

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

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The statement issued via the State-run press agency on Sunday also warned the kingdom would respond to any steps taken against it. President Donald Trump is expected to call King Salman soon as questions mount about the disappearance of the Saudi journalist.

However, Netanyahu and senior officials have in recent months boasted of secret ties with Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

While Oman's influence over Israel and the Palestinians is limited, its unique regional position could enable it to play a bigger role mediating between Israel and archenemy Iran.

Israel and Oman do not have diplomatic relations.

Palestinians have been boycotting the Trump administration since it made a decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem earlier this year. The only Arab states that recognize Israel are Jordan and Egypt.

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

In February, Oman's foreign minister made a rare visit by an Arab official to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound and to the West Bank.

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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