Israel’s Netanyahu made unpublicized visit to Oman: Report

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Sultan Qaboos in Oman. (Handout)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Sultan Qaboos in Oman. (Handout)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an unpublicised visit to the Gulf state of Oman on Friday, and discussed peace initiatives in the Middle East, his office said.

A statement from Netanyahu’s office after he returned home, said he met with Omani leader Sultan Qaboos. A joint statement said that “ways to advance the peace process in the Middle East and matters of mutual interest,” were discussed.

In 1996, then-prime minister, the late Shimon Peres, visited Oman and Qatar and opened Israel Trade Representations in both Gulf states. His predecessor, the late Yitzhak Rabin, made the first such visit to Oman in 1994.

None of the  Gulf Arab countries officially recognizes Israel.

Oman has been playing the role of a mediator in the Gulf  since it has good relations with  Iran and  the  GCC countries.
It also mediated the Nuclear deal between Iran and the west .
Iran also uses Oman for banking.  Iran has an account with Bank Muscat in Oman, where it banked payments for oil it sold. By 2015, the sum at the bank had reached $5.7 billion , but in Oman  Rials according to reports . Israel has been after the Iranian money ever since 2015 and pressured  the US Treasury to prevent Iran from converting the money into Dollars  or Euros.

Israeli intelligence services chief Yossi Cohen, who has largely been responsible for clandestine talks with Gulf Arab governments, was seen in the travelling delegation.

The visit also seemed to coincide with Oman hosting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

It also comes as Israel’s Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Friday for the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Judo tournament in which Israeli’s national team is competing.

REUTERS/YL