The US urged its ally, the Sultanate of Oman, to open its airspace to Israeli aircraft.
This came during discussions held by the White House National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, the US Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, last week, with the Omani Foreign Minister, Badr Al Busaidi.
During the Omani Foreign Minister’s visit to Washington last week, a strategic dialogue took place, for the first time, and several other issues were discussed, including Yemen and regional security.
American and Israeli officials hope that the progress made during the talks in the US last week will pave the way for Oman to open its airspace to Israeli airlines.
Since last July, US President Joe Biden’s administration has been trying to persuade the Omanis to open their airspace to Israeli airlines, but the Omanis had several bilateral issues and requests from the US that they want met in return, according to US officials. However, they have not provided further details in this regard.
On Tuesday, Israeli media revealed a secret meeting that brought together a senior Israeli official with Al-Busaidi to discuss bilateral relations and strengthening regional cooperation. They also discussed the issue of opening Omani airspace, “but no breakthrough has been made so far”.
In July, Saudi Arabia granted permission to Israeli airlines to use its airspace for eastbound flights to India and China.
According to US and Israeli officials, without similar permission from Oman, the flight paths of Israeli airlines are blocked, and the Saudi move becomes meaningless, to a large extent.
In 2018, then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Sultanate and obtained a commitment from the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said to allow Israeli airlines to use Omani airspace but, after the death of Qaboos, the current Sultan Haitham bin Tariq backed down from the decision.
The Sultanate of Oman refuses to join the Abraham Accords normalisation agreements with Israel, even though its neighbours, the UAE and Bahrain, have signed them.
Recently, Al-Busaidi revealed his country’s position on establishing normalised relations with Israel, calling for a just resolution of the Palestinian issue.