In a significant and historic event, largely missed due to the horrific events in the US, PM Netanyahu visited the Muslim Arab State of Oman. He was invited by the Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said, and the Foreign Minister, Yousef bin Alawi. The visit was kept secret until after Netanyahu returned to Israel on Friday.
In a speech at a Intl. Inst. of Strategic Studies Conf. in Bahrain on Fri, Alawi stated that “Israel is a State present in the region and we all understand this. …Maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same as all other states…”
This visit to Oman is doubly significant since it followed a visit by a senior delegation from the Palestine Authority, and Pres. Abbas has expressed his concern at the Omani invitation to Netanyahu.
The evident reason for the Omani invitation to Netanyahu is the fear of Oman over the depredations and territorial expansionism of Iran, that is a far greater threat to Oman and the other Gulf States than is Israel. Not only is Iran bigger and closer than Israel, but also the Palestinian cause is evidently not sufficiently high on Omani concerns to trump their very real fear of Iran. Only Israel and the US stand between these relatively weak Gulf States and Iran’s plans, and the US has not been a very reliable ally in recent years, i.e under Pres Obama. Hence the turn towards legitimization of Israel as a potential ally against Iran.
Netanyahu’s visit to Oman could be an omen of what is to come regarding acceptance of Israel by the Sunni Arab world.