Oman cools off warming Israel ties until ‘Palestinian problem solved’

The top Omani diplomat tempers the enthusiasm created at last week’s Warsaw conference. 

By World Israel News staff

Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi stated on Monday that there will be no diplomatic relations with Israel until a sovereign Palestinian state is established.

“The establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state is a basic condition for any normalization or future relationship between the Arab region and Israel,” he said, as he met in Moscow with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“There is no normalization of relations with Israel, but rather an ongoing diplomatic process aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the Palestinian problem,” the Omani foreign minister added.

The National, a Middle Eastern English-language news website based in another Gulf state, the United Arab Emirates, referred to Alawi’s comments as having “poured cold water on Israel’s attempts to warm relations” with Oman.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met last week one-on-one with Alawi on the sidelines of the Warsaw international summit on Middle East peace and security, after visiting Oman in October.

At their Warsaw encounter, Netanyahu declared “that the courageous decision of Sultan Qaboos to invite me to Oman [last year] is changing the world. It’s paving the way for many others to do what you said — not to be stuck in the past but to seize the future.”

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The Omani foreign minister responded that “indeed, this is an important, new vision for the future. People in the Middle East have suffered a lot because they have [been stuck in] the past. This is a new era for the future, and for prosperity for all the nations.”

Briefing reporters at the conclusion of the Warsaw conference, Netanyahu said that in closed discussions at the conference “some [Arab leaders] said that once, the Palestinian issue was central but now the Iranian issue is the most central because it threatens [their] existence.”

At the opening of the event in the Polish capital, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said that the conference marked a “new era.”

But even Netanyahu said that while Arab states appeared willing to make their relations with Israel more open, “I never said that I would attain peace treaties with Arab states before we resolve the Palestinian issue.”

Netanyahu has in the past spoken about his willingness to allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state, though more recently has preferred to refrain from labeling any future Palestinian entity as a state. He has consistently spoken of the need to keep the Palestinian areas demilitarized.