Omani FM visits Ramallah after Netanyahu’s visit to Muscat
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Omani FM visits Ramallah after Netanyahu’s visit to Muscat

Less than a week after Israeli leader travels to the Omani capital, Yusuf bin Alawi holds talks with PA president

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi shaking hands in Ramallah on October 31, 2018. (Credit: Wafa)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi shaking hands in Ramallah on October 31, 2018. (Credit: Wafa)

Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Wednesday and delivered a letter to him from Omani leader Sultan Qaboos bin Said regarding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Muscat last week, the official PA news site Wafa reported.

Last Thursday, Netanyahu visited Muscat and met Qaboos. His visit to Oman was the first by an Israeli prime minister in more than two decades. Abbas had traveled to Muscat days earlier.

Oman and Israel officially do not have diplomatic ties.

“Bin Alawi handed [Abbas] a letter from his brother Sultan Qaboos bin Said regarding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the Sultanate of Oman,” the Wafa report said, without elaborating.

Senior Ramallah-based Palestinian officials have largely remained silent about Netanyahu’s visit to Oman.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi meeting in Ramallah on October 31, 2018. (Wafa)

“We are refraining from commenting on Netanyahu’s visit because we do not want to start fights with our Omani brothers,” a Palestine Liberation Organization official, who asked to remain unnamed, said in a phone call on Monday. “We don’t believe that is in our interest.”

However, in an apparent response to Oman and the United Arab Emirates hosting Israeli officials, top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Monday that the Arab world should remain committed to the Arab Peace Initiative.

Earlier this week, the UAE opened its doors to Culture Minister Miri Regev, who attended part of the Abu Dhabi Judo Grand Slam and visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque there. For the first time, Israeli athletes competed under their national flag at the contest and the “Hatikva” anthem was played twice when two Israeli judokas scored gold medals.

“Arab countries must honor the Arab Peace Initiative,” Erekat said in a tweet.

The Arab Peace Initiative calls on Israel to agree to a two-state solution along the 1967 lines and a “just” solution to the Palestinian refugee issue in exchange for Arab nations subsequently normalizing relations with Jerusalem and declaring an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) with Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman on October 26, 2018 (Courtesy)

On Sunday, Abbas met Omani envoy Salim bin Habib al-Amiri in Ramallah, who also gave him a letter from Qaboos, Wafa reported.

In the letter, Qaboos thanked Abbas for visiting Oman last week, the Wafa report said.

Last Monday, Abbas met Qaboos in Muscat and discussed “the latest developments related to the Palestinian issue” with him, according official PA news site.

Last Friday, bin Alawi defended Muscat’s decision to host Netanyahu.

When Al-Jazeera, a Doha-based television station, asked bin Alawi why Oman hosted Netanyahu, he responded, “Why did [Oman] receive him? Is that forbidden? That is not forbidden…The reason is that the State of Israel is a country of the countries in the Middle East and the Israeli prime minister had made clear he was interested in visiting the Sultanate and telling our ruler what he believes is right for the Middle East, especially regarding the Israel-Palestinian dispute.”

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