Benjamin Netanyahu’s Visit to Oman Was a Good Thing, but Don’t Overestimate Its Importance

Commenting on the Israeli prime minister’s recent visit to Oman, where he was warmly received by the sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said, and other signs of improving relations between Israel and the Arab world, Nicole Salter and David May write:

News of Netanyahu’s visit to Oman has stoked hopes that the Gulf sultanate could serve as a regional broker for Israeli-Palestinian peace as part of President Trump’s anticipated “deal of the century.” . . . This visit came amid other potential signs of Arab-Israeli normalization. . . .

It is, [however], unclear whether the average Omani is ready to get behind Qaboos’s effort. Already, the Omani writer Zakaria al-Muharrami tweeted that while he appreciates the sultan’s efforts, “this does not mean that Netanyahu, the killer of children, becomes a friend. He is an enemy of all humanity.” In fact, variations of the hashtag #Omani_Against_Normalization have appeared in tens of thousands of tweets recently. Other prominent Omani commentators were more cautiously critical of the Netanyahu visit.

Moreover, it is uncertain if Oman, a relatively poor country with fewer than five million residents, has the strength and influence to serve as a regional peace custodian. . . . Netanyahu’s visit must be viewed now as a potentially positive step for peace in the Middle East. But it is unclear how much Oman has to offer.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Israel-Arab relations, Oman, Peace Process

Palestinian Leaders Fight Economic Growth

Jan. 15 2019

This month, a new shopping mall opened in northeastern Jerusalem, easily accessible to most of the city’s Arab residents. Rami Levy, the supermarket magnate who owns the mall, already employs some 2,000 Israeli Arabs and Palestinians at his other stores, and the mall will no doubt bring more jobs to Arab Jerusalemites. But the leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA) are railing against it, and one newspaper calls its opening “an economic catastrophe [nakba].” Bassam Tawil writes:

For [the PA president] Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah officials . . . the image of Palestinians and Jews working in harmony is loathsome. . . . Instead of welcoming the inauguration of the shopping mall for providing job opportunities to dozens of Palestinians and lower prices [to consumers], Fatah officials are taking about an Israeli plan to “undermine” the Palestinian economy. . . . The hundreds of Palestinians who flooded the new mall on its first day, however, seem to disagree with the grim picture painted by [these officials]. . . .

The campaign of incitement against Levy’s shopping mall began several months ago, as it was being built, and has continued until today. Now that the campaign has failed to prevent the opening of the mall, Fatah and its followers have turned to outright threats and violence. The threats are being directed toward Palestinian shoppers and Palestinian merchants who rented space in the new mall. On the day the mall was opened, Palestinians threw a number of firebombs at the compound, [which] could have injured or killed Palestinians. The [bomb-throwers], who are believed to be affiliated with Fatah, would rather see their own people dead than having fun or buying attractively-priced products at an Israeli mall.

By spearheading this campaign of incitement and intimidation, Abbas’s Fatah is again showing its true colors. How is it possible to imagine that Abbas or any of his Fatah lieutenants would ever make peace with Israel when they cannot even tolerate the idea of Palestinians and Jews working together for a simple common good? If a Palestinian who buys Israeli milk is a traitor in the eyes of Fatah, it is not difficult to imagine the fate of any Palestinian who would dare to discuss compromise with Israel.

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More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian economy