Oman: 'Israel is a fact of life'

Following Netanyahu's visit to Oman, nation says region should 'consider giving Israel equal treatment, Jews part of Islamic history'.

Nitzan Keidar ,

Netanyahu in Oman
Netanyahu in Oman
Prime Minister's Office

The government of Oman rebutted criticism in the Arab world regarding Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to the Gulf state on Friday, the first by an Israel leader since 1996.

Speaking at a conference of Arab nations on Saturday, Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah said that other nations in the region should weigh treating the Jewish State as an equal

"We should consider giving equal treatment to Israel among the other countries in the Middle East. Jews are part of history that touches Islam and the existence of the State of Israel is a fact that should not be ignored," said the Omani official.

Alawi noted that while the United States is leading attempts to renew contacts between Israel and the Palestinians, Oman can contribute to the process as well.

The Omani minister also expressed optimism about the possibility of reaching peace between Israel and the Palestinians. "It will be a long and difficult road, but I believe it is within reach," he said.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khaled bin Ahmed Khalifa said the meeting with Netanyahu was legitimate. "Sultan Oman understands the Israeli-Palestinian issue in depth and we believe in his efforts," he added.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Abed al-Jubeir said normalization of relations with Israel on the part of the Arab states would be the key to a political process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife had gone on an official visit to Oman on Friday.

The Prime Minister was invited to visit by Omani ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said after lengthy negotiations between the two countries.

"I returned to Israel today after an official visit to Oman, where I met with Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the ruler of Oman. My wife and I were invited to visit by Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the ruler of Oman, after long negotiations between the two countries, the first since 1996," said Netanyahu.