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Time to accept Israel and build a new world: Oman

Oman described Israel as an accepted Middle East state on Saturday, a day after hosting a surprise visit by its prime minister that Washington said could help regional peace efforts.

Oman is offering ideas to help Israel and the Palestinians to come together but is not acting as mediator, Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the sultanate’s minister responsible for foreign affairs, told a security summit in Bahrain.

“Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this,” Yousuf said. “The world is also aware of this fact. Maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same [as others states] and also bear the same obligations.”

His comments followed a rare visit to Oman by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu which came days after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas paid a three-day visit to the Gulf country. Both leaders met His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman.

“We are not saying that the road is now easy and paved with flowers, but our priority is to put an end to the conflict and move to a new world,” Yousuf told the summit. Oman is relying on the US and efforts by President Donald Trump in working towards the “deal of the century” (Middle East peace), he added.

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa voiced support for Oman over the sultanate’s role in trying to secure Israeli-Palestinian peace, while Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said the kingdom believes the key to normalising relations with Israel was the peace process.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, and his counterparts in Italy and Germany also participated in the three-day summit.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain said Gulf states are playing a critical role in maintaining stability in the Middle East by combating Iran’s “vision of darkness”.

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