Yemen's Houthis criticize Oman for Netanyahu visit

Sultan of Oman receives Israel PM 'after prolonged contacts'

Sultan of Oman receives Israel PM 'after prolonged contacts'

Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, had said in his speech before the UN General Assembly on September 29, 2018 that the current conditions, despite their difficulty and despite the halt of dialogue, have become suitable for founding an environment for positive discussions between the Palestinian and Israeli sides towards a comprehensive settlement based on the two-states solution. Oman's stance and contributions to peace are well-understood and valued by the people of the region and the world, as well as their leaders, though some of these contributions are not declared.

On Saturday, the Omani foreign minister said that in supporting Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, "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". Friday's meeting was the first of its kind between leaders of the two countries since 1996.

Netanyahu and Sultan Qaboos discussed the Middle East peace process "and other issues of shared interest", the Israeli premier's office said in a statement. Abbas also met with Sultan Qaboos.

Israel and Oman do not have diplomatic relations.

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The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) said Saturday that it will stop firing rockets at Israel after an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire. Widespread desperation among Gaza's 2 million residents has fueled the participation in the Hamas-orchestrated protests.

Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa voiced support for Oman over the sultanate's role in trying to secure Israeli-Palestinian peace, while Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said the kingdom believes the key to normalising relations with Israel was the peace process. But the official said the visit was mostly connected to Oman's "regional role".

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), like Israel, view Iran as a regional threat and previously lobbied the U.S. to withdraw from a multinational nuclear deal with Tehran. Trump later withdrew the U.S. from the accord earlier this year.

The surprise meeting with Oman's Sultan Qaboos late on Thursday, which was kept secret until Netanyahu's return home, comes despite the two nations having no diplomatic ties.

Netanyahu's office said on Friday: "The Prime Minister's visit is 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". In addition to that, they also discussed other issues of common interest in order to serve security and stability in the region. "But it may mean that equally true and perhaps even truer is that if you open up to the Arab world and you normalize relations with them, it will open the door for an eventual reconciliation and peace with the Palestinians", Netanyahu said.

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Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said: "We are thinking of the families of those who were murdered and praying for the quick recovery of those who were injured".

"And if you look at Netanyahu's speech at the United Nations in September, [when] he said [that] thanks to Iran, Arab countries - which had been keeping a distance from Israel - are now getting closer and closer because we have a mutual enemy".

In February, Oman's foreign minister made a rare visit by an Arab official to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound and to the West Bank.

In October 2000, Oman closed the offices after the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada.

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