Oman to open embassy in Palestinian territories’ West Bank: foreign ministry

Oman is opening a new diplomatic mission in the West Bank in line with its ‘support for the brotherly Palestinian people.’ (AFP)
Updated 26 June 2019

Oman to open embassy in Palestinian territories’ West Bank: foreign ministry

  • A delegation from Oman’s foreign ministry will be going to Ramallah for the purpose

MUSCAT: Oman said Wednesday that it will open an embassy in the Palestinian territories in support of the Palestinian people, in a first for a Gulf Arab state.
The announcement coincided with a US-led economic workshop in Bahrain to unveil a Middle East peace plan which is not expected to recognize an independent Palestinian state.
“In continuation of Oman’s support for the Palestinian people, the Sultanate of Oman has decided to open a diplomatic mission at the level of embassy in the State of Palestine,” the foreign ministry said on Twitter.
A delegation from the ministry will travel to Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, to take the necessary measures to open the embassy, it said.
The announcement was cautiously welcomed by a senior Palestinian official.
“We think maybe first of all it will help us educate the Omani government as to the real nature of the occupation and also working with Palestine directly,” Hanan Ashrawi told journalists.
But she warned Oman against using the new embassy as a step toward establishing formal relations with Israel.
“If this has a political price attached then certainly there will be ramifications,” she said.
Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab countries to have established diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.
But Oman was the first Gulf state to receive Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in October 2018.
A US ally bordering Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Oman has frequently served as a mediator in the Arab world.
Elizabeth Dickinson, senior analyst with the International Crisis Group think tank, believes the step by Oman will enhance its diplomatic role.
“The good offices of Omani diplomacy have averted regional crises in the past and would be welcome in the Israel-Palestine context,” Dickinson told AFP.
“Muscat is one of the few remaining regional powers that can truly talk to all sides — a vitally important role in a moment of such heightened regional tension,” she said.
Oman is not participating in the Bahrain workshop, where US President Donald Trump’s administration hopes to raise $50 billion of investments to improve the economic conditions of Palestinians.
The conference is boycotted by the Palestinian Authority which fears the US administration is dangling money to impose pro-Israeli political solutions.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, is leading the “Peace to Prosperity” initiative which he called the “Opportunity of the Century” for the Palestinians.
But Kushner, a staunch supporter of Israel, said that the Palestinians needed to accept the economic framework before any eventual progress on reaching a long-elusive comprehensive peace deal.
Last year, Oman’s state minister for foreign affairs, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, held talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Ramallah.
He also made a rare visit by an Arab official to the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque complex in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.
“Now Oman will have a direct presence in Ramallah. Muscat has an uncanny ability to see a middle road when most others are picking sides,” Dickinson said.
Muscat has previously mediated in regional disputes including US-Iranian tensions and in the conflict in Yemen.


Israeli lawmakers submit bill to dissolve parliament

Updated 39 sec ago

Israeli lawmakers submit bill to dissolve parliament

  • Israel has been mired in political deadlock for months
  • Lawmakers from the rival sides together tabled the bill

JERUSALEM: Israeli legislators submitted a bill Tuesday that would dissolve parliament and trigger unprecedented third national elections in less than a year.
Israel has been mired in political deadlock for months.
With the two largest parties, Likud and Blue and White, unable to form a power-sharing agreement ahead of a Wednesday deadline, lawmakers from the rival sides together tabled the bill.
It is expected to go to a vote in parliament on Wednesday, setting the date for the next election on March 2.
“Under the exceptional circumstances that have emerged, and after two adjacent election campaigns in which no government was formed, the dissolution of the 22nd Knesset is being proposed,” the bill reads.
Neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor his main rival Benny Gantz have been able to form a coalition government after two inconclusive elections. Polls have predicted the third vote is unlikely to produce dramatically different results.
The legislation is something of a formality. The allotted period for forming a government following September’s election expires at midnight on Wednesday. Without a coalition deal, elections would have been automatically triggered later in March.
Each of this year’s elections, and their subsequent coalition jockeying, have largely been a referendum on Netanyahu, who was recently indicted for bribery, breach of trust and fraud in three corruption affairs.
Blue and White’s Gantz has refused to sit in a Netanyahu-led coalition, citing the long-serving leader’s legal troubles. Netanyahu has refused to step down, still overwhelmingly backed by his Likud party and his adoring base.