Published: Sun, October 28, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu makes rare visit to Oman

Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu makes rare visit to Oman

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

"My wife and I were invited to visit by the ruler of Oman, Sultan Qaboos bin Sa'id, after prolonged contacts between the two countries".

Benjamin Netanyahu's office said Friday that the Israeli prime minister has returned from a visit to the Gulf state of Oman, where he joined the country's leader in the first meeting of its kind in more than 20 years.

Akiva Eldar, a senior columnist for Al-Monitor, told Al Jazeera that Netanyahu's visit to Muscat was meant to send a message to Gulf states that the "Saudis were not the only game in town".

In a joint statement released after their meeting, the first since 1996, the two leaders said they had "discussed ways to advance" Middle East Peace and "a number of issues of mutual interest to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East", the Israeli newspaper Haaretz wrote.

Muscat and Tel Aviv have no diplomatic relations, and the last Israeli leader to visit Oman was then-prime minister Shimon Peres in 1996.

The visit comes after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' visit to Oman earlier this week, raising the prospect that the sultanate may mediate between the two sides.

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

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The Palestinians cut ties with the United States after the White House recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and then moved the American embassy there in May.

"Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this", bin Alawi said.

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

In the cable, Israeli Foreign Ministry official Yacov Hadas said: "They [the Gulf states] believe Israel can work magic".

A trade office in Oman was closed in 2000 during the second Palestinian Intifada.

Last month, Israel's Channel 2 reported that Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz returned from a "secret trip" to Abu Dhabi where he discussed "shared concerns" over Iran and other undisclosed matters.

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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