Oman is offering ideas to help Israel and the Palestinians to come together but is not acting as mediator, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the sultanate's minister responsible for foreign affairs said.

Like most Arab countries, Oman does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel and it is rare for an Israeli leader to visit any of the neighbouring Middle Eastern countries.

The office said in a statement Friday that Netanyahu had been invited by Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said after lengthy communications.

The Israeli premier's trip formed part of "the policy outlined by Prime Minister Netanyahu on deepening relations with the states of the region", his office said.


TEL AVIV-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a surprise visit to meet Oman's ruler this week to discuss regional issues, the first official summit between the leaders and a sign of improving relations between Israel and the Arab Gulf states.

Netanyahu was accompanied by his wife Sara and his delegation included Mossad intelligence chief Yossi Cohen and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat.

The last meeting between leaders of the two nations was in 1996 when then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres visited Oman and Qatar.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also paid a three-day visit to Oman earlier this week.


"Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this", bin Alawi said.

A senior Palestinian official said the sultan had offered to play a role mediating between the Palestinians and Israelis, and that Abbas had said he welcomes any "meaningful" peace process. While President Donald Trump has promised a Mideast peace plan, United States relations with the Palestinians have deteriorated and his efforts to produce the "Deal of the Century" have so far proven fruitless.

In recent years, Netanyahu has insisted that relations between Israel and Gulf countries have been growing, despite none of the seven Gulf states officially recognising Israel.

Palestinians have been boycotting the Trump administration since it chose to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem earlier this year.


In October 2000, Oman closed the offices after the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada.

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