Oman could be next Arab country to normalise with Israel, says official

Oman could be next Arab country to normalise with Israel, says official
Eliav Benjamin, a senior Israeli foreign ministry official, hinted that Oman could be the next country to normalise ties with Israel.
2 min read
07 October, 2021
Oman's Sultan Haithem bin Tariq was instrumental in warming relations between Muscat and Tel Aviv [Getty]

A senior Israeli foreign ministry official hinted that Oman could be the next Arab country to normalise relations with Israel.

Eliav Benjamin, head of the ministry’s Middle East and Peace Process Division, told reporters in a briefing on Wednesday that Israel is in contact with countries across the region in a bid to arrange new normalisation agreements.

It comes after the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Bahrain all normalised relations with Israel, despite a boycott by most Arab states and anger across the Arab world.

"We're speaking basically to all countries in the region, in the Middle East and North Africa… They each have to decide when will be the right time for them and how to go about it," he said, according to Times of Israel.

"We're speaking to all of them, Oman as well… we have ongoing cooperation."

Israel used to have an official mission in Muscat that was opened after the Oslo Accords and it still participates in a multilateral project with Oman, Jordan, and other countries in the region on water cooperation.

He said he feels optimistic about normalisation prospects with Oman and "other countries".

I really hope that when we meet this time next year, if not before, we will be able to talk about other countries that have joined," he said.

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The statement comes a day after Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that Israel was negotiating new normalisation agreements with unnamed countries.

Oman Sultan Haitham bin Tariq's reign seems promising to Israel, Benjamin explained, due to his instrumental role in helping Muscat and Israel warm relations under the reign of Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who died in January.

However, Oman has repeatedly said it will not normalise ties with Israel before Palestinians are granted a state of their own.

This is something that Israel's interior minister ruled out during a visit to the UAE earlier this week.

"The Israeli government won’t deliberate on the establishment of a Palestinian state under the present government of Bennett or Lapid when he comes into office under the rotational agreement," Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked told Emirati media.

Known as the Abraham Accords, Israel fully established diplomatic ties with the UAE and Bahrain - followed by normalisation with Sudan and Morocco - in 2020 under the tenures of then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump.

The US-brokered agreements were met with fierce Palestinian backlash with solidarity protests across the world.

Opinion polls showed that the overwhelming majority of respondents in the Arab world were opposed to them.

Israel already signed peace deals with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.