A senior Israeli official who is well acquainted with the details of the visit, and who requested anonymity in order to discuss classified issues, said Oman could become a secret channel for Israel not just with Iran but also with Syria.
Jerusalem – Reports have confirmed that Israel and Iran are anticipating a back channel through Oman, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned home on Friday paying a surprise visit to Oman.
Located at the bottom of the Arabian peninsula, Oman has Saudi Arabia in the north and Iran in the east, however, it maintains good ties with both the adversaries. Oman maintains absolute autonomy by rejecting Saudi Arabia’s blockade on Qatar and Saudi-led coalition in Yemen against Iran.
In 2013, Oman held secret talks between United States and Iran to negotiate Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and this time Israel sees Oman a conduit for its relations with Iran.
According to NYTimes, a senior Israeli official who is well acquainted with the details of the visit, and who requested anonymity in order to discuss classified issues, said Oman could become a secret channel for Israel not just with Iran but also with Syria.
The trip seems to be in reference to United States’ peace plan between Israel and Palestine, which may be announced soon.
Oman believes to negotiate a peace-deal between Israel and Palestine though it doesn’t possess a profile like that of Saudi Arabia to pull Israel on the negotiation table.
Israeli Arab affairs analyst – Ehud Ya’ari said – “Oman wants to be a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians. However, Israel doesn’t need anyone’s help to be able to talk to the Palestinians,” pointing to another role for Muscat, he said – “Oman is a pipeline to Tehran.”
“Countries go to Oman if they have a message to give to Iran,” added Ya’ari referring to a possible Israeli-Iranian alliance.
Netanyahu was accompanied by his wife, the director of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, senior officials from Israel’s National Security Council and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other defense officials.
“The visit was symbolic and extraordinary,” said Yoel Guzansky, an Israeli expert on the Gulf States and Iran at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.
“Symbolism is very important in the Middle East,” he enthused.
Netanyahu has repeatedly expressed in the recent past that Israel has developed warm relations with several of its arch rivals in the region, despite no official relations, possibly referring to Iran. But he seldom publicizes these backdoor contracts and partners.
This week, while Qatar was hosting Israeli players in Doha and Oman was hosting Israeli premiers, Israel has brutally killed four Palestinians during a weekly protest at the Gaza border. After midnight, Israel shelled heavy bombs on the Palestinian civilians. No one seems to care about the Palestinian cause.