Abu Dhabi: Oman’s Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr bin Hamad Al Busaidi said his country will not be the third Gulf nation, after the UAE and Bahrain, to normalise relations with Israel even though it supports the Abraham Accords.
“Oman believes in the concept of achieving just, comprehensive and lasting peace based on the two-state solution. We will not be the third Gulf state to normalise ties, but we support the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and we respect sovereign decisions of countries as we expect other countries to respect ours,” Al Busaidi told the London-based Arabic-language daily Asharq Al Awsat.
He made remarks in response to a question about his recent call with Lapid — that conversation was announced last month by Omani state media, which said the minister told Lapid that he hoped Israel’s new government would take steps toward the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Oman has long been touted as one of the next countries to potentially forge diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. It expressed its support for the Israel-UAE normalisation deal the day after it was announced last year and was also quick to welcome Israel’s ties with Bahrain.
Al Busaidi said the Saudi-Omani summit, set to be held on Sunday (today), between King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz and Sultan Haitham bin Tariq will witness the launch of a coordination council between the two neighbouring countries.
Sultan Haitham will head to the Kingdom on Sunday on an official two-day visit.
The council will act as the framework for several agreements between Riyadh and Muscat, Al Busaidi added.
The council will pave the way for the next phase in cooperation and the summit will likely witness the signing of several agreements and memoranda of understanding in several fields, Al Busaidi added.
He predicted that relations will witness a qualitative leap in the future, especially in wake of the anticipated historic opening of the first direct land border between them.
That will lead the way for promising logistic projects between them, he said.
Asked about Oman’s role at the AlUla summit in January that achieved Gulf reconciliation, Al Busaidi said from the beginning, Muscat sought to support the Kuwaiti initiative that was proposed by late Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah and continued by his successor Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah.
Al Busaidi stressed that Saudi Arabia and Oman are closely coordinating their stances over a number of regional issues, starting with the conflict in Yemen.
Yemen, continued the minister, is of great importance on the regional and international scenes.
“We are working tirelessly and constantly to stop the suffering of the brotherly Yemeni people, to end the war and help as much as possible to achieve peace and stability,” Al Busaidi said.
Muscat supports the Kingdom’s initiative to reach a ceasefire in Yemen, as well as the Riyadh Agreement and the efforts of the United Nations and United States envoys to the war-torn country.
“Our common goal is ending the conflict according to a solution that respects the concerns of all parties and helps them reach understandings that provide Yemen and the Yemenis with stability and coexistence,” he added.
Al Busaidi denied that Oman had proposed a solution to the crisis. He dismissed the claims as rumors that spread when an Omani delegation paid a visit to Sanaa last month.
“There is no Omani initiative, rather Omani efforts to reach agreement between all parties,” he clarified.
Asked about the steps the Sultanate has taken to persuade the warring parties to return to negotiations, Al Busaidi said, “We believe all parties want to resolve the crisis and achieve peace. We are working on achieving that through attempting to bridge divides and address differences between the parties.”
Al Busaidi denied his country’s initiative to organise a regional dialogue with Tehran. “We don’t make any such effort,” he said. “Any regional dialogue must emanate from the countries of the region themselves,” he added.
Oman is a key interlocutor between the West and Iran, as well as Yemen’s Houthi rebels, assisting in getting prisoners released in the past.