Oman, Israel discuss ‘recent developments’ after UAE deal
Oman’s foreign minister spoke to his Israeli counterpart on Monday, Muscat said, the first contact since Israel normalised ties with the United Arab Emirates last week.
Yusuf bin Alawi subsequently spoke with a top Palestinian official, Oman added.
The Israel-UAE deal, announced by United States President Donald Trump on Thursday, is only the third such accord Israel has struck with an Arab country, and raises the prospect of similar deals with other pro-Western Gulf states.
Bin Alawi and Israel’s Gabi Ashkenazi spoke via telephone about “recent developments in the region”, Oman’s foreign ministry said on Twitter.
Bin Alawi told Ashkenazi that Oman “clearly reaffirms its position calling for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace” in the Middle East.
Bin Alawi also called for a “resumption of the peace process in order to satisfy the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people who aspire to an independent state”.
While Oman and Israel do not have formal diplomatic relations, there have been several contacts between the two states, including in 2018, when the late sultan Qaboos received Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Muscat.
Also on Monday, bin Alawi spoke with senior Fatah official Jibril Rajub, who expressed his “appreciation of the role of the sultanate and its balanced and wise policy towards Arab issues and, foremost, the Palestinian question”, according to Oman’s foreign ministry.
The Palestinian Authority has voiced its “strong rejection and condemnation” of the Israeli-Emirati deal.
Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) Bahrain and Oman have welcomed the deal, while Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar have yet to comment.
Home to Islam’s holiest sites, Saudi Arabia would face sensitive political calculations before a formal recognition of Israel.
Kushner urges Saudi to normalise ties with Israel
US president’s son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner said on Monday that it would be in Saudi Arabia’s interest to normalise ties with Israel as the UAE has agreed to do.
It would also weaken their common foe Iran’s influence in the region and ultimately help the Palestinians, Kushner told reporters during a telephone briefing.
“It would be very good for Saudi business, it would very good for Saudi’s defence, and, quite frankly, I think it would also help the Palestinian people,” Kushner said.
Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economy, has been silent on Trump’s surprise announcement last Thursday that the UAE — a close US and Saudi ally — and Israel had decided to normalise relations.
In return, Israel agreed to suspend the annexation of occupied West Bank territories, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the plan was not off the table in the long run.
Saudi King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had repeatedly expressed their desire for an independent Palestinian state with economic opportunities, Kushner said.
“What they basically said is that they […] want to see the Palestinian people have a state and economic opportunities,” said Kushner, the architect of Trump’s Middle East peace plan, which was wholly rejected by the Palestinians.
The landmark deal between UAE and Israel is only the third such accord the latter has struck with an Arab country, and raises the prospect of similar deals with other pro-Western Gulf states.
Trump said leaders from the two countries would sign the agreement at the White House in the coming weeks.
Common enemy Iran
Saudi Arabia and Israel have a common enemy in Iran, which most Gulf countries have accused of supporting militant groups in the region.
“It is in the interest of a lot of these countries from a security point of view and from an economic point of view to have relations with Israel,” Kushner said.
“A lot of GCC countries want to have breakthroughs.
“The more that countries come together like Israel and the UAE […] the harder it will be for Iran to divide and conquer.”
“If you think about the people who don’t want Saudi Arabia and Israel to make a peace agreement, the number one opponent for that is going to be Iran,” said Kushner. “That shows that is probably the right thing to do.”
Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the UAE’s decision to normalise ties with Israel was a “big mistake” and warned “against opening the path of Israel to the region”.
On Monday, Vice Admiral Jim Malloy, commander of US Naval Forces in the Middle East, said he did not believe the recent UAE-Israel deal “heightens tension”.
“I think it is a tense region where partners need to operate closely together,” Malloy said in a telephone briefing.