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Top Israeli intelligence minister heads to Oman following Netanyahu visit

Netanyahu met with Oman's Sultan Qaboos late on Thursday [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 October, 2018

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Netanyahu met with Oman's Sultan Qaboos last week, the first visit to the Gulf state by an Israeli premier since 1996.

A senior Israeli minister will travel to Oman next week, just days after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited the Gulf state in a surprise visit widely condemned by Palestinians.

Intelligence and Transport minister Yisrael Katz will participate in an international transportation conference, his office said.

Katz, who is also a member of Israel's security cabinet, will share his proposal for building a rail link between Israel and Arab Gulf countries.

It is the first time an Israeli minister has been invited to a convention held in Oman. Israel and Oman have no official ties.

Netanyahu met with Oman's Sultan Qaboos late on Thursday, an encounter that was kept secret until after he returned to Israel, where it was presented as a major coup for efforts to bolster ties with the Arab world.

Read also: Saudi Arabia and the UAE: Boycotting Qatar and embracing Israel

Netanyahu's rare visit to the Gulf state comes amid a sustained period of what analysts say is a warming in relations between Israel and several Arab states.

The visit to Oman was the first by an Israeli premier since 1996, when acting prime minister Shimon Peres visited and the countries agreed to establish trade representative offices. 

Oman closed those offices in 2000 after the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada.

Palestinian officials strongly condemned Oman for hosting the visit, saying it represented the "normalisation" of relations between Israel and the Arab world despite the continued Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank.

"The value system and the Arab political and social pact don't exist anymore," said Mohammad Shtayyeh, an adviser to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, in a statement.

"It is the start of a public normalisation and the end of the Arab peace initiative", he added, referring to a 2002 Arab League proposal.

The 2002 initiative affirmed Arab states would restore diplomatic ties with Israel in exchange for a peace settlement creating a Palestinian state that returned all land occupied or annexed in and since the 1967 war.

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.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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