Oman’s foreign minister in US to seek role in Mideast peace process – report
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Oman’s foreign minister in US to seek role in Mideast peace process – report

Ties between Israel and the Gulf sultanate have been warming; Netanyahu visited in October

Omani Minister for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi center, visiting the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, February 15, 2018. (Ahmad GHARABLI/AFP)
Omani Minister for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi center, visiting the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, February 15, 2018. (Ahmad GHARABLI/AFP)

Oman’s Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi arrived in Washington Wednesday, where he is reportedly expected to meet with the Trump administration’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the possibility of involvement in future peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The former head of the Quartet Mission in Jerusalem, Robert Danin, tweeted from Muscat on Tuesday, saying, “Omani officials compellingly explain [that] their recent engagement with senior Israelis and Palestinians reflects a genuine desire to see a true peace and Israel integrated into the Middle East.”

Danin told the Abu Dhabi newspaper The National that Oman wants its diplomacy regarding the conflict to be “synchronized with the Trump administration thinking.”

Ties between Israel and Oman have seen a recent warming, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with his wife, Sara, and defense and diplomatic officials visiting the Gulf state in October.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks with Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Oman on October 26, 2018 (Courtesy)

A joint statement issued at the time by Jerusalem and the sultan of Oman, who has ruled the Gulf state since 1970, said the two leaders discussed “ways to advance the peace process in the Middle East as well as several matters of joint interest regarding the achievement of peace and stability in the Middle East.”

Netanyahu’s visit came just days after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with the sultan in Muscat. The two discussed “the latest developments related to the Palestinian issue” and their countries’ bilateral ties, the official PA news site Wafa reported.

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

Netanyahu has for years spoken about the warming ties between Israel and the Arab world, citing not only Iran as a common enemy but also many countries’ interest in cooperating with Israel on security and defense matters, as well as Israel’s growing high-tech industry.

The Trump administration’s plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace is expected to be rolled out in the coming months. But the plan, details of which have been scant, is unlikely to be welcomed by either side, especially with the Palestinian Authority boycotting the Trump administration since its recognition last year of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

The PA has vowed to oppose what US President Donald Trump has referred to as the “deal of the century.” Israel’s shaky right-wing coalition government, meantime, is down to a majority of just 61 in the 120-seat Knesset after Avigdor Liberman resigned as defense minister last month to protest a Gaza ceasefire following a major flareup and took his party into the opposition.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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