Oman is preparing to join the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in recognizing Israel, according to a report in Yisrael Hayom on Monday.
According to the report, which quoted multiple senior Arab diplomats and officials, Oman is now widely expected to join the UAE and Bahrain in establishing formal diplomatic ties with Israel, including full normalization of relations and direct flights.
This despite a senior UAE official noting that Oman is one of the only Arab states in the Gulf region which maintains a positive dialogue with the Iranian regime.
A second diplomat was quoted in the report as saying that Oman’s relations with Iran were the only reason it has yet to openly recognize Israel.
“The reason it hasn’t yet agreed to full and open relations is the reasonable possibility that this could harm its relations with Iran significantly,” the official said.
The second official added that part of Bahrain’s calculations in deciding whether to recognize Israel were also affected by concerns over Iran’s reaction, noting that while the ruling dynasty in Bahrain is Sunni, more than 60% of the Muslim population there is Shiite, giving Iran significant influence over the country.
But, the official continued, “after the United Arab Emirates reached a deal with Israel with the support of the Saudis, in Manama [the Bahraini capital] they understood that they can rely on the support of Riyadh … and they joined on to the historic peace agreement, which will benefit all sides. Therefore, it is clear that additional Arab states will join soon.”
On the other hand, other Arab diplomats agree that Saudi Arabia itself will not move to recognize Israel formally or to establish full relations, due to its obligations to the Palestinian Authority.
On Sunday, Oman welcomed Bahrain’s decision to normalize relations with Israel.
“Oman hopes this new strategic path taken by some Arab countries will contribute to bringing about a peace based on an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and on establishing an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as capital,” the government statement said.
In 2018, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited Oman and discussed peace initiatives in the Middle East with then-Omani leader Sultan Qaboos.
In a turbulent region, Oman has maintained its neutrality. It has kept friendly relations with a range of regional actors, including arch-foes the United States and Iran.
Netanyahu departed for Washington late Sunday night for the signing of the Abraham Accords in Washington on Tuesday.