On October 26, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a surprise visit to the Sultanate of Oman and discussed the peace process in the region with Omani Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, according to the Omani News Agency (ONA).
“Among the issues discussed were ways to advance the peace process in the Middle East as well as several matters of joint interest regarding the achievement of peace and stability in the Middle East,” the two countries said in a joint short statement.
The Times of Israel revealed that the Israeli prime minister was invited to Oman by the sultan himself. Netanyahu was reportedly accompanied by Mossad Director Yossi Cohen, National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, Foreign Ministry Director-General Yuval Rotem, the head of the Prime Minister’s staff, Yigal Horowitz, and the Prime Minister’s Military Secretary, Brig.-Gen. Avi Bluth.
The first visit of a senior Israeli official to Oman occurred in 1994, when Israeli’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin visited the Gulf state. Two years later, the town countries signed an agreement on the reciprocal opening of trade representative offices.
The Israeli-Omani relation witnessed a setback following the Second Palestinian Intifada in October 2000. However, the relations began to recover in 2008 when Oman’s Foreign Affairs Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah met with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni during their visit to Qatar.
Despite that both countries stated that Netanyahu’s visit was aimed at discussing the peace initiative in the Middle East, some experts say that the Sultanate is playing a role in easing the tension between Iran, its close partner, and Israel. According to this version, Oman is playing a role of a mediator in the indirect negotiations between Iran and Israel.