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

The Reasons for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Staying Power

Nov. 20 2018

This week, Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have narrowly avoided the collapse of his governing coalition despite the fact that one party, Yisrael Beiteinu, withdrew and another, the Jewish Home, threatened to follow suit. Moreover, he kept the latter from defecting without conceding its leader’s demand to be appointed minister of defense. Even if the government were to collapse, resulting in early elections, Netanyahu would almost certainly win, writes Elliot Jager:

[Netanyahu’s] detractors think him Machiavellian, duplicitous, and smug—willing to do anything to stay in power. His supporters would not automatically disagree. Over 60 percent of Israelis tell pollsters that they will be voting for a party other than Likud—some supposing their favored party will join a Netanyahu-led coalition while others hoping against the odds that Likud can be ousted.

Opponents would [also] like to think the prime minister’s core voters are by definition illiberal, hawkish, and religiously inclined. However, the 30 percent of voters who plan to vote Likud reflect a broad segment of the population. . . .

Journalists who have observed Netanyahu over the years admire his fitness for office even if they disagree with his actions. A strategic thinker, Netanyahu’s scope of knowledge is both broad and deep. He is a voracious reader and a quick study. . . . Foreign leaders may not like what he says but cannot deny that he speaks with panache and authority. . . .

The prime minister or those around him are under multiple police investigations for possible fraud and moral turpitude. Under Israel’s system, the police investigate and can recommend that the attorney general issue an indictment. . . . Separately, Mrs. Netanyahu is in court for allegedly using public monies to pay for restaurant meals. . . . The veteran Jerusalem Post political reporter Gil Hoffman maintains that Israelis do not mind if Netanyahu appears a tad corrupt because they admire a politician who is nobody’s fool. Better to have a political figure who cannot be taken advantage of than one who is incorruptible but naïve.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics