A top Omani government official said Arabs must take initiatives to make Israel overcome “fears for its future” in the region, drawing criticism from Jordan.
The remarks by Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the minister responsible for foreign affairs in Oman, came on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum hosted by Jordan on the shores of the Dead Sea.
“The West has offered Israel political, economic and military support and it now holds all the means of power… but despite that it fears for its future as a non-Arab country surrounded by 400 million Arabs,” he said.
“I believe that we Arabs must be able to look into this issue and try to ease those fears that Israel has through initiatives and real deals between us and Israel,” he told a panel discussing geopolitics.
The panel’s moderator, journalist Hadley Gamble, interrupted him to ask if the best solution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “recognising Israel and its right to exist”.
The minister said no.
“Not recognising, but we want them themselves to feel that there are no threats to their future.”
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, whose country is the only Arab nation along with Egypt to have a peace treaty with Israel, dismissed the remarks saying “the issue is that there is an occupation” of Arab land.
“The Arab world has recognised Israel’s right to exist. The Palestinians themselves recognised the Israeli right to exist… that is not the issue,” Safadi told the panel.
“The issue is that there is an occupation. Is this occupation going to end or not?”
Israel, Safadi said, must “withdraw from Arab lands occupied since 1967 and allow” the creation of a Palestinian state. “This is the issue,” he said.
In October last year, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held surprise talks with Oman’s Sultan Qaboos in Muscat — raising Palestinian fears of a normalisation of ties.