Report: Oman to Be Next to Normalize; Mossad Chief Believes Saudi Deal Soon

YERUSHALAYIM -
netanyahu oman
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visiting Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Oman in 2018. (Office of Prime Minister Netanyahu)

Israeli officials believe Oman is next in line to normalize relations with Israel in the near future, following Israel’s blitz of deals with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and most recently Sudan, according to a Channel 12 report on Motzoei Shabbos.

The report quoted sources in the government who claimed an announcement was even potentially possible before the U.S presidential election, though they stressed it could take more time, as Oman authorities would likely wait to see where political winds are blowing in Washington before making any major decisions.

Oman hailed the accords between Israel and the two Gulf states last month, expressing hope they would “contribute to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited Oman in 2018, the first trip by an Israeli leader in over two decades, in what was seen as a sign of warming ties between Israel and the Sunni Arab world.

Meanwhile, Channel 12 also reported that Mossad chief Yossi Cohen stated that he believes Saudi Arabia will normalize ties with Israel, but will only do so after the U.S. election, to fully capitalize on such a decision with whoever is the next president.

The report said Israel believes any such Saudi decision will be cushioned by a significant arms deal with America, similar to the U.S. agreement to sell F-35s to the United Arab Emirates, which Israel has approved.

Before the recent accords between Israel and the UAE and between Israel and Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan had been the only Arab nations to have a formal peace deal with the Jewish state.

Saudi leaders have publicly ruled out forging ties with Israel before a Palestinian state is created, even as they have welcomed the normalization deals between the Jewish state and Gulf Arab states signed in Washington last month.

Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo encouraged Saudi Arabia to recognize Israel.

“We hope Saudi Arabia will consider normalizing its relationships as well. We want to thank them for the assistance they’ve had in the success of the Abraham Accords so far,” said Pompeo, while hosting Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in Washington.

When the White House announced in August that the United Arab Emirates and Israel had agreed to establish full diplomatic ties, Saudi Arabia refrained from criticizing the deal or hosting summits condemning the decision, despite Palestinian requests to do so.

The kingdom also approved the use of Saudi airspace for Israeli flights to the UAE, a decision announced the day after Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh. Kushner has been pushing Arab states to normalize ties with Israel and has said that the Jewish state could eventually enjoy fully normalized relations with Saudi Arabia.

Covert ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia are believed to have been growing in recent years. The shift in policy has reportedly been led by the crown prince, who sees Israel as a strategic partner in the fight against Iranian influence in the region.