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Palestinians say Oman 'stabbed them in the back' by hosting Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made a surprise visit to Oman on Thursday. [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 October, 2018

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Oman said on Saturday that it is time to accept Israel as a state in the Middle East, a day after hosting a surprise visit by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu
Palestinian officials have strongly condemned Oman for hosting Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu in a surprise visit this week, saying it was a betrayal of the Palestinian people who still live under brutal Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas, which runs Gaza, lambasted Oman for allowing Netanyahu to visit, saying it accelerated "normalisation with the Israeli entity" and was a "stab in the back" for Palestinians.

Senior Fatah official Munir al-Jaghoob condemned the "gratuitous normalization with the occupation" while Palestinian land is still under occupation, Israeli media reported.

Mohammed Shtayyeh, member of the Fatah Central Committee, said Netanyahu's visit signalled the death of the Arab Peace Initiative.

"The phase of public normalization has begun, and the Arab Peace Initiative is finished," he said, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The comments follow a rare visit by Netanyahu, just days after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited the Gulf country on a three-day trip.

The visit, which was only announced on Friday, was also criticised by many pro-Palestine activists and media outlets.

On Saturday, Oman however said that it is time to accept Israel as a state in the Middle East, a day after hosting a surprise visit by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

"Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this," Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the sultanate's minister responsible for foreign affairs, told a security summit in Bahrain.

"The world is also aware of this fact. Maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same [as others states] and also bear the same obligations."

"We are not saying that the road is now easy and paved with flowers, but our priority is to put an end to the conflict and move to a new world," bin Alawi told the summit.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain participated in the three-day summit, together with US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and his Italian and German counterparts.

The Israeli premier's trip to Oman formed part of "the policy outlined by Prime Minister Netanyahu on deepening relations with the states of the region", his office said.

Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy, tweeted on Friday that he welcomed the "warming ties & growing cooperation between our regional friends".

Israel currently has full diplomatic relations with only Egypt and Jordan, but the Oman visit by Netanyahu is the latest sign of growing regional ties between Israel and Arab States.

Israel and some Gulf States, notably Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have a shared interest in curbing Iran's influence in the region and share intelligence information.

In the past two years, a series of reports of covert meetings between Israeli and Saudi officials give an impression of a rapprochement between the two states.

Earlier this year, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Israel had a "right" to exist, an unprecedented statement from an Arab leader.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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