Israeli Leader Visits Oman’s Ruler in Sign of Improving Relations

Larry Hoffman
October 27, 2018

In 1994, then-Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin visited Oman, and acting prime minister Shimon Peres also made a visit in 1996 when the two countries agreed to open trade representative offices.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday ended a visit to the Sultanate of Oman, the first of its kind, during which he met with Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

In September, Netanyahu said Israel and some Arab countries have forged closer relationships following the global deal agreed upon in 2015 between Iran and six world powers, including the United States.

"The Palestinians are taking a strong position against the Trump administration and Netanyahu and yet they have to talk to the Israelis".

Unusually, the trip was prominently highlighted in Oman's state media.

Netanyahu was accompanied by his wife, Sara, as well as the head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, the National Security Advisor, and the NSC Maj.

Mr. Netanyahu returned from Oman on Friday afternoon after meeting Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, the Israeli leader's office said in a statement.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called Iran's leader "the new Hitler of the Middle East", while Netanyahu said past year that both Iran and Nazi Germany share in common, "a ruthless commitment to impose tyranny and terror" as well as "a ruthless commitment to murder Jews".

"Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife returned to Israel at the end of an official visit to the Sultanate of Oman, where he met with Prime Minister Sultan Qaboos bin Said", Netanyahu wrote on his Twitter account.

Kara said Israel expects "more pleasant surprises and gestures" from Gulf countries in the coming days.

Translation: The prime minister's visit to Oman is proof of our declaration on the warming of good relations between the Israeli government and Sunni countries that oppose Iranian terrorism that threatens them.

His office added that it formed part of a policy of "deepening relations with the states of the region".

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also paid a three-day visit to Oman earlier this week but it wasn't clear whether the visits were connected. This was the first visit by Netanyahu to any Gulf state and the first such visit by any Israeli premier for more than two decades.

The following month, Omani officials joined their Arab counterparts from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain at the White House for a meeting with Israeli national security officials to discuss the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

Though uncommon, Israeli leaders have previously visited the Gulf state.

Alarm over Shiite-led Iran's extensive reach in the region in places like Syria, Iraq and Lebanon has sparked behind-the-scenes diplomacy between some Arab states and Israel. Oman's foreign minister visited Israel in 1995.

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