Omani foreign minister says no ties with Israel without Palestinian state

Yusuf bin Alawi says two-state solution a precondition for full diplomatic relations

Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah attends a meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on February 18, 2019. / AFP / Yuri KADOBNOV

Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi has poured cold water on Israel’s attempts to warm relations with the Gulf state, saying that there will be no diplomatic relations until a sovereign Palestinian state is established.

“The establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state is a basic condition for any normalisation or future relationship between the Arab region and Israel,” he said.

“There is no normalisation of relations with Israel, but rather an ongoing diplomatic process aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the Palestinian problem.”

He was in Moscow to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week met one-on-one with Mr Alawi on the sidelines of the Warsaw summit after he paid a rare visit to the sultanate last year.

Amid troubles at home, Mr Netanyahu has launched a charm offensive to improve diplomatic ties with Arab or Muslim-majority states.

Last month, Israel renewed diplomatic relations with Chad after their ties were severed in 1972.

Mr Netanyahu called the announcement a “historic moment” and said that Israeli was “making inroads into the Islamic world”.

“This is the result of considerable effort in recent years. We are making history and we are turning Israel into a rising global power,” Mr Netanyahu said.

But a resolution to the Palestinian issue remains distant. US President Donald Trump has made a series of moves that have isolated the Palestinian Authority and emboldened Israel’s right-wing.

Many Arab states refuse to have diplomatic ties with Israel because of its occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, territories that Palestinians want as part of a future state.

Mr Netanyahu is under increasing pressure at home as Israel’s attorney general is reportedly preparing to indict the prime minister on corruption charges.

To avoid the impact of an indictment, Mr Netanyahu called early elections for April to tackle any leadership challenge with a new mandate.