Jordan criticises Oman comments on easing Israel's 'fears for its future'

The remarks came on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at the Dead Sea

(L to R) Lebanese Defence Minister Elias Bou Saab, Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag, Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, and Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi sit on a panel moderated by anchor Hadley Gamble, during the 2019 World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa, at the King Hussein Convention Centre at the Dead Sea, in Jordan on April 6, 2019.  / AFP / Khalil MAZRAAWI
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Jordan's foreign minister on Saturday dismissed remarks by his Omani counterpart that Arabs must take the initiative to make Israel feel that it has “no threats to their future”.

Yusuf bin Alawi, the Omani Foreign Minister, said that it is on Arab countries to ease Israel "fears for its future as a non-Arab country surrounded by 400 million Arabs”.

The remarks came during a panel held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum hosted by Jordan.

"I believe that we Arabs must be able to look into this issue and try to ease those fears that Israel has through initiatives and real deals between us and Israel," he told a panel discussing geopolitics.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, whose country is the only Arab nation along with Egypt to have a peace treaty with Israel, dismissed the Omani official’s remarks saying "the issue is that there is an occupation" of Arab land.

"The Arab world has recognised Israel's right to exist. The Palestinians themselves recognised the Israeli right to exist, that is not the issue," Mr Safadi told the panel.

"Israel is not doing the right thing. Actually it is doing more of the wrong things by suffocating Palestinians," the Jordanian minister said, referring to the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip.

The Omani minister denied a question from the panelist asking him if he was implying that the best solution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict was “recognising Israel and its right to exist".

"Not recognising, but we want them themselves to feel that there are no threats to their future."

Israel and Oman do not have diplomatic relations, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Oman in October on a rare visit – the first in 20 years – and met with Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the leader of the sultanate.

Although there were no significant breakthroughs in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which Oman has played a quiet role in fostering negotiations, the visit did raise fears of Israel’s claims that it has developed good relations with several Arab states.

Israel, Mr Safadi said, must "withdraw from Arab lands occupied since 1967 and allow" the creation of a Palestinian state. "This is the issue," he said.

"If they [Israel] say they are not comfortable, that is not my problem," said Mr Safadi.

"The problem is not with Arabs giving assurances, the problem is with Israel doing what is right for peace," he added.

Many Arab leaders fear the long-awaited peace plan, which US President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has promised to reveal after Israeli elections. Details on the plan's economic details were discussed with several Arab leaders in one-on-one meetings during Mr Kushner's six-day tour of the region earlier this year, but Palestinian officials remain sceptical it will serve their interests.

In February, Israeli premier Mr Netanyahu met one-on-one with Mr bin Alawi at an international conference in Warsaw, attended by officials from the GCC.

Last year, Mr bin Alawi told a regional conference in Bahrain it might be "time for Israel to be treated the same [as states in the Middle East] and also bear the same obligations".