A senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official claimed yesterday that Oman could be the next Arab country to normalise ties with Israel.
Eliav Benjamin, head of the ministry’s Middle East and Peace Process Division, told reporters in a briefing that Israel is in contact with countries across the region in the hope of establishing new normalisation relations.
“We’re speaking basically to all countries in the region, in the Middle East and North Africa,” he said. “They each have to decide when will be the right time for them and how to go about it. We’re speaking to all of them; Oman, as well … we have ongoing cooperation.”
However, Oman has repeatedly said in recent months that it will not normalise ties with Israel before Palestinians are granted a state of their own.
“Also with Oman, and also with other countries. I really hope that when we meet this time next year, if not before, we will be able to talk about other countries that have joined,” added Benjamin.
Israel signed peace treaties known as the Abraham Accords with the UAE and Bahrain in September last year. This was followed by announcements that Sudan and Morocco had also agreed to normalise ties with the occupation state.
Benjamin’s statement comes a day after Israeli Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, announced at the Jewish Federations of North America’s annual conference that Israel is working to expand its ties with Arab states.
He said, “I wouldn’t name names because this will harm the process but, of course, we’re working with the United States and with the new friends in the Emirates, in Bahrain and Morocco … in order to expand this to other countries.”
Palestinians have been critical of the normalisation deals, saying Arab countries have set back the cause of peace by abandoning a longstanding demand that Israel give up land for a Palestinian State before it can receive recognition.