Netanyahu’s Oman Visit Sets Off Israeli Cabinet Rush To Gulf

(TOI) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s surprise visit to Oman pried open a door to the Persian Gulf usually shut to Israelis, and several of his cabinet members are following him through. Communications Minister Ayoob Kara, a Druze Arab citizen of Israel, will attend a conference in Dubai of the International Telecommunications Union on Monday, while Transportation Minister Israel Katz will participate next week in another international conference in the Omani capital, Muscat. Culture Minister Miri Regev has been in the United Arab Emirates since Friday, accompanying Israel’s national judo team at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam.”

“It’s a sign that Israel and the Arab world are moving closer,” said Michael Oren, Netanyahu’s deputy minister for public diplomacy.”

Mr. Netanyahu sees countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman as crucial potential allies in a Middle East that is realigned around opposition to Iran and is less concerned about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land without a signed peace deal. U.S. officials hope Saudi Arabia and other states can pressure Palestinians to come to the table and accept the Trump administration’s terms.

Elliott Abrams said, “That the Sultan would meet with Netanyahu despite the freeze in Israeli-Palestinian relations does suggest that relations with Israel will be judged independently. If it’s useful for Oman they’ll do it, whatever the Palestinians think. The invitation to Abbas looks like a diplomatic cover to me: an excuse for inviting Bibi. As to the Trump peace plan, it suggests that Oman will not simply reject the plan instantly as the Palestinians will, but may temporize. I expect that like the other Arab states they will thank Trump for trying, hew to the Arab Plan of 2002, and call for negotiations.”

“One thing this invitation may do is spur the Qataris to invite Bibi. Why not? The Sultan has provided cover, and the Qataris know the Saudis won’t invite him so they may see a chance to gain an advantage here.”