Omani foreign minister tells Netanyahu of 'new era' in Middle East

“People in the Middle East have suffered a lot by sticking to the past. Now we are saying this is a new era for the future and for the prosperity of every nation,” said the Omani foreign minister.

February 13, 2019 17:01
3 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Omani Foreign Minister

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Omani Foreign Minister Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah (L) in Warsaw, February 13th, 2019. (photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)


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There is a new era in the Middle East, Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when the two met in Warsaw prior to the US-led ministerial meeting on Iran.

“This is an important and new vision for the future. People of the Middle East have suffered a lot because they are stuck to the past. This is a new era for the future and for prosperity for every nation,” the Omani foreign minister said during their meeting on Wednesday.

Netanyahu told Alawai that it was a delight to see him again.

“The courageous decision of Sultan Qaboos [bin Said] to invite me to Oman is changing the world,” Netanyahu said as he referenced his October visit to Muscat.

“It’s pointing the way for many others to do what you said, not to be stuck in the past, but to seize the future.

“Many are following this lead, and may I say, including in this conference. I thank you for this positive policy that can lead to peace and prosperity for all,” Netanyahu added. “I want to thank you on behalf of the people of Israel, and I allow myself to say on behalf of many people in the Middle East.”

The prime minister is in Warsaw to attend the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East, which opens on Wednesday night and extends into Thursday.

“It is cold in Warsaw right now, but Israel’s foreign relations are warming up, warming up for the better,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu told Israeli reporters that he and the Omani foreign minister had spoken of steps the two countries, as well as others in the region, could take to advance mutual interests.

Representatives of Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar, as well as the UK, South Korea, Brazil, Italy and Kenya, have chosen to attend, while several EU nations opted out due to concern over the conference’s focus on undermining the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran to which they remain a party.

Top Trump administration officials arrived in Warsaw on Wednesday with talking points on Iran and harsh words for the Palestinians, teasing only “a discussion” on the Middle East peace process ahead of an expected peace push later this year.

Senior advisers to the president Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt planned a soft launch of their long-awaited peace plan at a meeting hosted by Norway’s foreign minister, Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide, where they will discuss economic components of their proposal, officials said. But while both men plan on taking questions from gathered ministers, the administration does not expect them to make significant news.

Greenblatt even downplayed the importance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Twitter en route to the conference, mocking the notion that it is at the core of the region’s problems and characterizing the Palestinians as “isolated” from a growing Mideast alliance preoccupied by Iran.

“Iran is the primary threat to the future of regional peace and security,” wrote Greenblatt, increasingly vocal on Twitter in recent days. “That’s what Palestinians don’t grasp; as a consequence of being detached from new realities, we see Palestinians increasingly left behind [and] more isolated than ever. Very unfortunate for the Palestinians.”

Palestinian Authority officials are boycotting the conference, still dismissive of the administration since its moves last year to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US Embassy there.

While Kushner and Greenblatt will engage on the peace effort, Vice President Mike Pence and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will lead conversations on Iran, according to administration officials.

US Vice President Mike Pence who addressed the gathering said, “Tonight I believe we are beginning a new era with Prime Minister Netanyahu from the State of Israel, with leaders from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE  all breaking bread together and later in this conference sharing honest perspectives on the challenge facing the region.”

“Poland and the US welcome this outward symbol of this gathering a symbol of cooperation and a hopeful sign of a brighter future that awaits nations across the Middle East,” Pence said.

He added, “We are stronger together than we could ever be apart.”

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