Oman says time to accept Israel in region

Israel's Netanyahu meets Sultan Qaboos in surprise Oman trip

Oman's minister responsible for foreign affairs, Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, has said that the Sultanate does not play the role of mediator between the Palestinians and Israel, but is offering ideas to help them to come together.

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.

"The Palestinian side welcomes any Arab or worldwide 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.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a rare visit to Oman, an Arab state with which Israel has no diplomatic ties, and met with its leader Sultan Qaboos, the premier's office said Friday.

The Israeli prime minister and the Omani sultan issued a joint statement saying the two sides "discussed ways to advance the Middle East peace process and discussed a number of issues of mutual interest to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East".

Over the past years and decades, the Sultanate has spared no effort in working for the sake of achieving peace and establishing a fair solution through constructive dialogue in the framework of worldwide legitimacy, not only in the case of the Palestinian issue which constitutes the Arab countries' central issue and which has been accorded special attention by the Sultanate and His Majesty Sultan Qaboos in person, but also in respect of various other issues and developments in the GCC, Arab, regional and global arenas.

He added that Muscat should learn "a lesson" from those governments of some Muslim countries that "normalized ties with Israel but lost their nation" as the condemned relations with Tel Aviv created deep rifts between them and their people.

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US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and his counterparts in Italy and Germany also participated, but Jordan's King Abdullah cancelled his appearance after a flood that hit the Dead Sea region killed 21 people, including more than a dozen children.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), like Israel, view Iran as a regional threat and previously lobbied the USA to withdraw from a multinational nuclear deal with Tehran. Mahmoud Abbas visited Oman recently and both parties [the Israelis and Palestinians] have now mentioned Oman as a potential facilitator of the peace process. Unlike many Arab states, Oman has also maintained relations with Syria. Trump later withdrew the United States from the accord earlier this year.

Netanyahu's office said in a statement the prime minister was invited by Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said after lengthy communications between the two nations.

"You should not underestimate the openness and the thirst in the Arab world today for Israel", the Israeli prime minister said on Thursday. "And the reason, the first reason before anything else, is that we're there in innovation", he said.

Oman, a country of about four and a half million people on the southeastern coast of the Arabian peninsula, has always been one of the few Arab states not to shy away from open ties with Israel.

In January 1996, Israel and Oman signed an agreement on the reciprocal opening of trade representative offices.

That office was shut four years later, after the start of the Second Intifada in October 2000.

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