Oman attempted to launch back-channel negotiations between Israel and Iran: report

Oman attempted to launch back-channel negotiations between Israel and Iran: report
The late Sultan Qaboos, who maintained friendly ties to Israel, presented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the offer of secret talks with Iran after Hassan Rouhani's election in 2013.
2 min read
03 February, 2020
Oman and Israel have long maintained friendly ties [Getty]
Oman attempted to open a secret channel of communcation between Israel and Iran following the 2013 election of President Hassan Rouhani, an Israel Channel 13 news report revealed on Monday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the proposals after discussions with then National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidor and Mossad Agency Executive Tamir Pardo.

According to Amidor, who spoke to Channel 13, Netanyahu's decision was a tacit concession to American pressure, which had refused to recognise the legitimacy of any Israel-Iran negotiations.

Netanyahu's very consideration of the proposal, however, revealed the strategic importance of Oman's role as a broker for Israel, the report added, citing four senior Israeli officials.

When Netanyahu returned to office in 2009, he issued a unilateral warning to Israeli security services to refrain from all forms of communication with Iran. 

Read more: Oman calls of Arabs to ease Israel's 'fears for its future'

According to the report, Israel was aware of back-channel negotiations between the US and Iran in Muscat, but recieved no prior heads up.

The talks were held under the auspices of then US President Barack Obama and yielded the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. 

Security Advisor Amidor declared the Jewish State's disapproval in a meeting with his US counterpart, Susan Rice, desribing the failure to share details of the plan as 'insulting'.

Following Rouhani's appointment in 2013, a figure who was widely expected to carve out a more progessive role for Iran in global affairs, the late Sultan Qaboos of Oman took the rare step of presenting Israel the prospect of joining Iran at the negotiating table.

The report also touched on the five decade-long discreet relations between the Sultanate of Oman and Israel, which it still does not formally recognise.

Oman's ambassador was one of the three Arab envoys to the US (along with those of the UAE and Bahrain) who attended last Tuesday's unveiling of the Trump administration peace plan.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who died last month, was the first Gulf leader to host a serving Israeli prime minister - Yitzhak Rabin in 1994 - one of the earliest steps in the region's normalisation of relations with Israel.
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