Prince Salman and Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, along with other dignitaries at the opening of Manama Dialogue on Friday. Image Credit: BNA

Manama: A surprise meeting by Oman’s Sultan Qaboos with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday in Muscat was hailed as a wise and far-sighted move by Bahrain, but was condemned as unwise by Iran.

“We have never ever questioned the wisdom and farsightedness of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos in trying to help and do their part in trying to reach a solution for this [Palestinian-Israeli] issue,” Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said at the Manama Dialogue. “We look forward to Sultan Qaboos succeeding in his effort,” Shaikh Khalid told the annual international conference.

However, in Tehran, Iran condemned Netanyahu’s visit, saying that it was seeking “to sow discord among Muslim countries” in the region.

“This regime seeks to create divisions between Muslim countries and obscure 70 years of usurpation, rape and killing of the oppressed Palestinians,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bassam Ghasemi said.

The US and the “Zionist lobby” in Washington are pressuring Islamic countries “to normalise relations” with Israel, he added.

“History and experience show that retreating and acquiescing to the illegitimate demands of the United States and the usurper Zionist regime will make them bolder and more dominant in the region, while ignoring the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights,” he said.

Special Aide on International Affairs of the Islamic Parliament, Hosein Amir Abdollahian, said: “The meeting of Netanyahu the Criminal with the Sultan Qaboos in the Sultanate of Oman is far from the usual wisdom of His Majesty the Sultan.”

“Trump and Netanyahu will not reap the benefits of the “Deal of the Century,” he posted on his Twitter account.

Addressing the Manama Dialogue one day after he attended the meeting between Sultan Qaboos and Netanyahu in Muscat, Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yousuf Bin Alawi said “Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this.”

“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,” he said.

Oman is offering ideas to help Israel and the Palestinians to come together but is not acting as mediator, he said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir, speaking at the conference, said that his country had no relations with Israel.

“We believe that the key to normalising relations with Israel is the peace process, the peace initiative adopted by the Beirut Summit in 2002 that calls for Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories and allows the Palestinians to establish their state along the 1967 borders with occupied East Jerusalem as its capital in exchange for peace and normalisation with Israel,” he told the Manama Dialogue. “This remains our position today.”