Sultan of Oman Qaboos bin Said al-Said sits during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (not pictured) at the Beit Al Baraka Royal Palace in Muscat, Oman January 14, 2019.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority welcomed Oman’s decision to open an embassy in Ramallah.
PA officials, however, expressed hope that the decision was not part of a plan by the Gulf state to recognize Israel.
“This is a positive development,” an adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday. “But we hope that this is not a first step toward establishing diplomatic relations between Oman and Israel.”
Oman’s decision came on the second and final day of the US-led Bahrain “Peace to Prosperity” economic conference, which was boycotted by the Palestinians. Oman did not participate in the workshop.
Senior Palestinian officials have strongly criticized the Arab states that participated in the conference.
“Our message to those who are called our [Arab] brothers: We have talked much about our enemies – Israel and the US,” deputy Fatah chairman Mahmoud al-Aloul said at a rally against the Bahrain conference in Nablus on Tuesday. “However, you are not our enemies. But your stabs in our back have been too much. You have gone too far with tampering with our cause, and this is something we won’t allow.”
Oman will be the first Gulf state to open an embassy in Ramallah.
“In continuation of the Sultanate of Oman’s supportive approach to the brotherly Palestinian people, the sultanate has decided to open a new diplomatic mission to the state of Palestine at the embassy level,” the official Oman News Agency said in a statement.
The agency said that a delegation from the Omani Foreign Ministry will travel to Ramallah to initiate the opening of the embassy.
The PA Foreign Ministry welcomed Oman’s decision, and said it was a “natural continuation of the sultanate’s courageous and honorable positions in support of the Palestinians and their rights.”
The decision, the ministry added, “will deepen, develop and strengthen bilateral relations between our two countries, and strengthen the joint cooperation between our leaders on all issues.”
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi also welcomed the Omani decision, but expressed hope that the move has nothing to do with recognizing Israel.
“We welcome countries that recognize the state of Palestine and open embassies in Palestine,” she said at a news conference in Ramallah. “We expect this embassy to work only for the Palestinians.”
Ashrawi warned, however, that the Palestinians will totally oppose a decision by Oman to recognize Israel. She pointed out that the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative clearly states that the Arab countries will neither recognize Israel nor normalize relations with it “until it withdraws from the occupied Palestinian territories.”
In October 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a surprise visit to Oman, where he met with the country’s leader, Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Netanyahu’s visit came days after Abbas paid a three-day visit to the Gulf country.
Netanyahu’s visit drew sharp criticism from Palestinians and Arabs, who accused Oman of embarking on normalization with Israel.
Days later, Oman Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi visited Ramallah, where he met with Abbas and delivered a letter from Sultan Qaboos bin Said concerning Netanyahu’s visit to the sultanate.
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