Yemen's Houthis criticize Oman for Netanyahu visit

Hugh Fox
October 27, 2018

Oman and Israel have no diplomatic relations, and Shimon Peres was the last Israeli leader to visit the Gulf Arab state in 1996.

The visit came at the invitation of Sultan Qaboos and followed "lengthy contacts between the two countries", the statement said.

TEL AVIV-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a surprise visit to meet Oman's ruler this week to discuss regional issues, the first official summit between the leaders and a sign of improving relations between Israel and the Arab Gulf states.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called Iran's leader "the new Hitler of the Middle East", while Netanyahu said a year ago that both Iran and Nazi Germany share in common, "a ruthless commitment to impose tyranny and terror" as well as "a ruthless commitment to murder Jews".

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Netanyahu's visit with Sultan Qaboos was notable for being widely publicized, with Israeli and Omani media carrying images and videos of the meeting.

Earlier this year, bin Alawi visited Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque and Netanyahu has on several occasions hinted at warmer ties with Gulf states.

The visit comes after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' visit to Oman earlier this week, raising the prospect that the sultanate may mediate between the two sides.

Netanyahu arrived in Muscat on Thursday night at the head of a high-powered delegation that included among others Mossad director Yossi Cohen and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, and returned to Jerusalem later on Friday.

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The sultan reportedly told both Netanyahu and Abbas to restart peace talks, but Palestinians told him there isn't a good chance negotiations can resume with Israel's current right-wing government.

"A special visit in Oman - we're making history!" Trump later withdrew the USA from the accord earlier this year.

"You should not underestimate the openness and the thirst in the Arab world today for Israel", he said Thursday. The trip to Oman, an Arab country with no formal ties to Iran, had not been announced in advance.

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

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In September, Netanyahu said Israel and some Arab countries have forged closer relationships following the global deal agreed upon in 2015 between Iran and six world powers, including the United States. "It's a boon to peace", Netanyahu added.

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