Israel to open foreign ministry office in Oman, Mossad chief says
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Israel to open foreign ministry office in Oman, Mossad chief says

Speaking at the Herzliya Conference on Monday, Yossi Cohen said “Just recently, renewal of formal relations with Oman was declared and the establishment of a representative office of the foreign ministry in that country.” “That is only the visible tip of a much broader secret effort,” he added. Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab states that have diplomatic ties with Israel. However, reports have indicated that several of them, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, have had secret relations with Tel Aviv. “We do not yet have with them (Arab states) official peace treaties but there is already a communality of interests, broad cooperation and open channels of communication,” Cohen said. Israel and Oman agreed to open trade representative offices in the 1990s, but in 2000, the Persian Gulf sultanate shut them down after the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada (uprising). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Oman’s Sultan Qaboos in Muscat last October. The controversial visit was kept secret until after the Israeli premier returned to the occupied territories. On Wednesday, Oman announced plans to open an embassy in Palestine in support of the Palestinian people, in a first for a Persian Gulf state. Palestine warns Oman Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization, welcomed Muscat’s decision, saying “I hope the embassy will help in educating the Omani government on the real nature of the Israeli occupation.” She, however, warned Oman against using its mission to establish formal ties with Tel Aviv, saying, “If this has a political price attached then certainly there will be ramifications.” Israel and the Persian Gulf Arab regimes have dramatically increased their contacts since late June, when Bahrain hosted a US-led conference where the “economic” part of President Donald Trump’s “peace” plan for the Middle East was unveiled. The recent moves towards normalization of ties have angered Palestinians, who see them as an attempt to liquidate the Palestinian cause. In an unprecedented move, a handful of Israeli journalists, hand-picked by the White House, traveled to Bahrain last week to attend the US-led conference. The conference was boycotted by the Palestinians. Critics say Washington is offering financial rewards for Palestinians to accept the Israeli occupation. Following the event, Bahrain openly said that it wants “peace” and “better” relations with the occupying entity. On the weekend, the Israeli foreign minister, Yisrael Katz, arrived in the United Arab Emirates for a UN environmental conference. During the visit, he met an unnamed “high ranking UAE official”. “I shall continue to work together with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to advance the normalization policy,” Katz said in a Facebook post. Further in his speech, the Mossad chief noted that a potentially “one-time-only” window of opportunity had opened for Tel Aviv to achieve what he called  “a regional peace agreement,” noting that it comes from a shared interest with some countries in the region against Iran and from improved ties with the US and Russia.

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