During His Long Reign, Sultan Qaboos of Oman Fostered Ties with Israel

Jan. 14 2020

When he died last Friday, Qaboos bin Said al-Said was the longest-ruling head of state in the Arab world, having seized power in Oman from his father in 1970. Omanis are overwhelmingly Ibadi Muslims, neither Shiite nor Sunni, which positioned Qaboos to act frequently as an intermediary between Iran and its Sunni rivals. But he was also the among the first Arab leaders to make peaceful overtures to the Jewish state, as Yoel Guzansky and Efraim Halevy write—although full diplomatic relations do not yet exist between the two countries:

After Qaboos came to power, the British initiated ties between Israel and Oman, which at the time was dealing with an invasion from Yemen. . . . British and Iranian aid (during the shah’s rule, prior to the Islamic Revolution) was supplemented by Israeli military and political advice, as well as Israeli help in providing solutions to the water shortage in the sultanate.

After some twenty years of secret and sensitive relations between Oman and Israel, there was a positive shift in the ties between the two countries following the signing of the 1994 peace agreement between Israel and Jordan. That same year, Prime Minister Yitzḥak Rabin, who wanted to infuse a regional dimension to the historic agreement, arrived in Muscat on a direct flight from Tel Aviv. . . . Oman was the first of the Gulf states to approve the establishment of an Israeli diplomatic mission.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conducted an official visit to Muscat in 2018 and according to reports flew over Saudi airspace en route. The Palestinian question was raised during talks between Netanyahu and Sultan Qaboos, but the Omani host did not pressure Israel on the matter. Questioned by a Palestinian representative at an event following Netanyahu’s visit, an Omani spokesman said that given that for 70 years the Palestinians had not been able to advance their claims against Israel, they would do well to seek new and different formulas that were in line with the spirit of the time.

As for Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, Qaboos’s cousin and handpicked successor, Guzansky and Halevy believe that he is “likely . . . to maintain close ties with Iran on the one hand and with Israel on the other.”

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Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Israel diplomacy, Oman, Yitzhak Rabin

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror