by WorldTribune Staff, October 28, 2018
Arab nations should consider Israel as an equal, Oman’s foreign minister said after the nation was highly criticized in the Arab world for hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We should consider giving equal treatment to Israel among the other countries in the Middle East. Jews are part of history that touches Islam and the existence of the State of Israel is a fact that should not be ignored,” Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah said at a conference of Arab nations on Oct. 27.
Netanyahu was invited to visit by Omani ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said after lengthy negotiations between the two countries, reports said.
“I returned to Israel today after an official visit to Oman, where I met with Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the ruler of Oman. My wife and I were invited to visit by Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the ruler of Oman, after long negotiations between the two countries, the first since 1996,” said Netanyahu.
The visit, which was kept secret until after Netanyahu’s return to Israel on Oct. 26, came just two days after a Palestinian delegation led by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas was in Oman. Abbas also met with Sultan Qaboos.
PA officials said they did not know if Abbas knew in advance about Netanyahu’s visit to the country’s port capital of Muscat.
Munir al-Jaghoub, a senior official with Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction in the West Bank, said that Netanyahu’s visit to Oman “eliminates the Arab Peace Initiative, which is based on land-for-peace, [and] which will be followed by the establishment of relations between Israel and the Arab countries.”
“Fatah strongly condemns the gratuitous normalization with the occupation while Israel still doesn’t recognize the rights of the Palestinians and Arabs,” al-Jaghoub said.
“We are witnessing the implementation of the Netanyahu-Kushner-Greenblatt plan,” he said, referring to U.S. presidential advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt. “The most important article of this plan calls for establishing relations between Israel and the Arab countries before seeking peace with the Palestinians.”
Oman, meanwhile, is offering ideas to help Israel and the Palestinians to come together but is not acting as mediator, bin Alawi said.
“We are not saying that the road is now easy and paved with flowers, but our priority is to put an end to the conflict and move to a new world.”
Oman is relying on the United States and efforts by President Donald Trump in working towards the “deal of the century” (Middle East peace), he added.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Khaled bin Ahmed Khalifa said the meeting with Netanyahu was legitimate. “Sultan Oman understands the Israeli-Palestinian issue in depth and we believe in his efforts,” he added.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Abed al-Jubeir said normalization of relations with Israel on the part of Arab states would be the key to a political process between Israel and the Palestinians.