PA, Hamas heads visit Oman to pay respects following monarch’s death

PA, Hamas heads visit Oman to pay respects following monarch’s death

Newly appointed Sultan Haitham bin Tariq welcomes Arab leaders and UK’s Prince Charles

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

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (Flash90, Said Khatib/AFP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (Flash90, Said Khatib/AFP)

Both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas terror group chief Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Oman on Sunday to offer condolences following the death of Omani Sultan Qaboos bin Said at the age of 79.

The death of Qaboos, who ruled Oman for nearly 50 years, was announced on Saturday. Thereafter, Haitham bin Tariq was named as his successor.

Abbas met Sultan Haitham on Sunday in Muscat, the official PA news site Wafa reported. Haniyeh also sat down with the newly appointed monarch, pictures posted on the Hamas-linked Shehab news site showed.

Qaboos’s funeral took place on Saturday.

Haitham on Sunday welcomed to Muscat several Arab heads of state who expressed their condolences on Qaboos’s death, the Omani state-run Oman News Agency reported. He met Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and Tunisian President Kais Saied, as well as the UK’s Prince Charles, among others.

Jordanian King Abdullah left Jordan for Oman on Sunday to offer his condolences to Haitham on his predecessor’s death, the Royal Hashemite Court tweeted.

Oman’s newly appointed monarch vowed on Saturday to maintain the foreign policy of Qaboos.

“We will follow the same line as the late sultan, and the principles that he asserted for the foreign policy of our country, of peaceful coexistence among nations and people, and good neighborly behavior of non-interference in the affairs of others,” he said in his first public remarks as sultan.

Sultan of Oman Qaboos bin Said al-Said sits during a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Beit Al Baraka Royal Palace in Muscat, Oman, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool Photo via AP)

Under Qaboos, who came to power when he deposed his father in 1970 in a palace coup, Oman facilitated discussions between rival international parties. In 2013, for example, Muscat hosted talks between Iran and the US.

Qaboos also hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Muscat in November 2018 — the first visit of an Israeli premier to Oman in more than two decades.

Netanyahu on Saturday offered his condolences to Oman, calling Qaboos “an incredible leader.” A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment as to whether Israel would dispatch an official to Oman in the coming days to pay respects in person.

Abbas feted Qaboos on Saturday: “He devoted his life to serving his homeland, people and the causes of the Arab and Islamic world with wisdom and balance.”

Abbas last visited Oman in October 2018, when he met the deceased Omani sultan.

Haniyeh, the Hamas leader, called Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi on Saturday to express his condolences on Qaboos’s death, Hamas’s website reported.

Hamas has sharply criticized Arab states that have hosted Israeli officials in the recent past.

Abbas and Haniyeh are rarely in the same city at the same time. The PA and Hamas have been at loggerheads since the latter ousted the former from Gaza in 2007. Multiple attempts to reconcile the two have failed.

The Associated Press contributed to this article. 

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