Published: Sat, October 27, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Netanyahu Is 1st Israeli Leader To Visit Oman Since 90s

Netanyahu Is 1st Israeli Leader To Visit Oman Since 90s

Oman is an Arab state with which Israel has no diplomatic ties.

The two leaders 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".

The statement said Sultan Qaboos had invited Netanyahu after "lengthy contacts between the two countries".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made the first visit to Oman by an Israeli premier in over 20 years, officials said on Friday (Oct 26), in an apparent sign of growing regional ties.

"We never questioned the wisdom of Oman's Sultan Qaboos to contribute to Israel-Palestine issue and we wish him well in his effort", Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed said.

Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, were joined by Mossad intelligence chief Yossi Cohen, who has reportedly been responsible for clandestine talks with Gulf governments, and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat.

The comment followed a rare visit by Netanyahu to Oman, the first by an Israeli leader in over two decades, and a sign of warming ties between the Jewish state and the Sunni Arab world. "The Palestinians are taking a strong position against the Trump administration and Netanyahu and yet they have to talk to the Israelis".

In February, Oman's foreign minister visited Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound and the West Bank. Trump later withdrew the U.S. from the accord earlier this year.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the president of the Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee (SRC), made the remarks in a tweet on Saturday, adding that the real goal of the Israeli premier's trip to Muscat "is to isolate Oman from playing any positive role in the future with its allies and friends".

The official also said Israel could use Oman as a backchannel to both Iran and Syria. A trade office in Oman was closed in 2000 during the second Palestinian Intifada.

Mr. Netanyahu's Office described the one-day visit as "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 Israeli delegation flew to Oman on Thursday and returned to Israel on Friday.

In another sign of warming ties between Israel and Arab states, Israel's judo team is set for the first time to participate at an worldwide competition in the UAE under their national flag.

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