The sultanate's Foreign Affairs minister Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah says Muscat only offering ideas to help Israel and Palestinians to come together, a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Oman.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Gulf state of Oman on Friday and discussed peace initiatives in the Middle East with Omani leader Sultan Qaboos.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Gulf state of Oman on Friday and discussed peace initiatives in the Middle East with Omani leader Sultan Qaboos. (Reuters)

Oman is offering ideas to help Israel and the Palestine to come together but is not acting as mediator, Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the sultanate's minister responsible for foreign affairs said on Saturday.

Oman relies on the United States and efforts by President Donald Trump in working towards this "deal of the century" (Middle East peace), Alawi bin Abdullah told a security summit in Bahrain, a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Oman.

"We are very optimistic about this Israel-Palestine proposal. The Torah  (Jewish holy book) saw the light in the Middle East. The Jews used to live in this area of the world."

Bin Alawi said, "Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this, the world is also aware of this fact and maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same and also bear the same obligations."

Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa voiced support for Oman over the sultanate's role in trying to secure Israeli-Palestinian peace, while Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir said the kingdom believes the key to normalising relations with Israel was the peace process.

Netanyahu-Qaboos meeting 

Netanyahu visited the Gulf state of Oman on Friday and discussed peace initiatives in the Middle East with Omani leader Sultan Qaboos, Netanyahu's office said after he returned home.

The rare visit by an Israeli leader to Oman – which was not publicised beforehand – comes days after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas paid a three-day visit to the Gulf country and also met Qaboos.

Netanyahu was accompanied on Friday by senior officials, including the head of the Mossad intelligence agency and his national security adviser.

"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," said a joint statement by the two leaders that was issued in English by Netanyahu's office.

Previous visits to Oman

Though uncommon, Israeli leaders have previously visited the Gulf state.

In 1996, the late Shimon Peres went to Oman and Qatar when he was prime minister and opened Israel trade representative offices in both Gulf countries. His predecessor, the late Yitzhak Rabin, made the first trip to Oman in 1994.

Earlier this year, Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi made a rare visit by such a senior Arab official to Jerusalem's Al Aqsa Mosque.

Netanyahu has on several occasions hinted at warmer ties with Gulf states.

He told Israel's parliament last week that due to fears of a nuclear threat from Iran, "Israel and other Arab countries are closer than they ever were before."

In another sign of improving relations, Israeli Sports Minister, Miri Regev flew to Abu Dhabi where Israel's judo team was participating in a major tournament. 

Source: Reuters