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.


Turkey may suspend ties with UAE over Israel deal, Erdogan says

Updated 1 min 15 sec ago

Turkey may suspend ties with UAE over Israel deal, Erdogan says

  • Turkey has diplomatic and trade ties with Israel, but relations have been strained for years

ISTANBUL: Turkey is considering suspending diplomatic ties with the UAE and withdrawing its ambassador over the Gulf state’s accord to normalize ties with Israel, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
The Turkish foreign ministry said history would never forgive the UAE’s “hypocritical behavior” in agreeing such a deal, which recasts the order of Middle East politics.
Under the US-brokered deal, the first between Israel and a Gulf Arab country, the Jewish state agreed to suspend its planned annexation of areas of the occupied West Bank. Palestinian leaders have denounced it as a “stab in the back” to their cause.

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READ MORE: UAE, Israel reach ‘historic deal’ to normalize relations

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“The move against Palestine is not a step that can be stomached. Now, Palestine is either closing or withdrawing its embassy. The same thing is valid for us now,” Erdogan said, adding he gave orders to his foreign minister.
“I told him we may also take a step in the direction of suspending diplomatic ties with the Abu Dhabi leadership or pulling back our ambassador,” he told reporters after Friday prayers.
The Foreign Ministry had earlier said Palestinians were right to reject the deal in which the UAE betrayed their cause.
“History and the conscience of the region’s peoples will not forget and never forgive this hypocritical behavior,” it said. “It is extremely worrying that the UAE should, with a unilateral action, try and do away with the (2002) Arab Peace Plan developed by the Arab League.”
Turkey has diplomatic and trade ties with Israel, but relations have been strained for years. In 2010 Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish activists trying to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.
The deal makes UAE the third Arab country to establish full relations with Israel, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.