Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to Israel from Oman on Friday, the first such visit by an Israeli prime minister in 22 years and a sign of closer ties for Israel with an influential Persian Gulf nation that has long acted as a regional go-between.
The Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s strategic visit to Oman after 22 years of broken diplomacy has stirred commotion in the neighborhood. Specially because of Oman’s strategic placement between the Arabian Peninsula, Iran and Pakistan and also because it is an economically developed oil economy having plans to fully incorporate its economy with the global supply chain (GSC) by 2020.
Oman closed an Israeli trade office in Oman in 2000 because of animosity over the second Palestinian uprising. The Netanyahu’s visit along with his wife Sara, National Security Advisor, Meir Ben-Shabbat and the Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen indicate that Oman is set to play a significant role in US proposed “Deal for Century” policy. There are speculations that improved relations between Israel and Oman could offer a back channel for communication with some of Israel’s traditional adversaries in the region, despite the stalemate on Palestinian dispute. Oman already has cordial relations with countries that are adversaries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The Palestinian reports indicated that President Mahmoud Abbas also paid a visit to Oman earlier this on October 21-23, and called it “successful on all levels”. It remains unclear; however, whether he was aware of Netanyahu’s due visit the country soon.
Oman has already hosted secret talks between Iran and the US, back in 2013 that paved the way for broader negotiations to finalize a nuclear deal between the two countries. This time also the visit has been positively received by international community and regional stake holders.
Mr. Netanyahu himself tweeted by posting a video “A special visit in Oman — we’re making history!”.Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt also welcomed the “warming ties & growing cooperation” between two US friendly countries of ME and Gulf region. “This is a helpful step” Mr.Greenblatt added “for our peace efforts & essential to create an atmosphere of stability, security & prosperity between Israelis, Palestinians & their neighbors.
The visit was based on invitation of Sultan Al Qaboos preceded by talks of over a period of four months. A day after the, Omani foreign minister Yussef bin Alwi stated that Israel should be treated ‘the same’ as other regional states. He said that Israel is a state ‘present’ in the region and should be accepted like that. He on the other hand clarified that Oman will support the US sponsored peace process in the ME but will not play role of a ‘mediator’.
Pakistani political leadership on the other hand is not pleased with these developments. Minister for Human Rights Dr Mazari shared a rebuffing tweet on Sunday morning saying that Israeli media used fake plane landing incident news to divert attention of Pakistani media from the ongoing meeting between Netanyahu and Sultan Al Qaboos. For Pakistan, having Israel so close to its strategically vital port of Gwadar is un acceptable, as Oman is a link for CPEC’s fruitful expansion, which Israel, being of the Indian/US camp would surely try to undermine. It is also of concern, at a time when its ally Saudi Arabia is having doubtful ties with the US, that Israel would be wanting to encircle it more. For Pakistan, this visit brings nothing but bad omen, and Pakistan would not be willing to have the strategic balance altered in Israel’s favor.
President Dr Arif Alvi has re-instated that Pakistan is not going to establish any diplomatic relations with Israel owing to any strategic shift in the region. (Going for his) official three day’s trip to Turkey.