Oman, Indonesia likely next countries to forge ties with Israel
Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Sultan Qaboos bin Said in this undated handout provided by the Israel Prime Minister Office, in Oman (photo credit: ISRAEL GPO/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Oman and Indonesia could be next in line to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in the coming weeks, a diplomatic source said Sunday. The Trump administration is continuing in its efforts to bring more Arab and Muslim countries into the Abraham Accords. The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco have agreed to normalization with Israel, with Morocco normalization announced on Friday. After Bhutan agreed to forge ties with Israel outside of the framework of the accords, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night said Israel is “in touch with additional countries that want to join and establish relations with us.”
US Vice President Mike Pence plans to visit Israel in January, as first reported by The Jerusalem Post last week, Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) told Army Radio on Sunday. While here, Pence may announce that another country will establish relations with Israel, he added. The diplomatic source identified Oman and Indonesia as two countries with which talks have advanced and with whom normalization could be announced before US President Donald Trump leaves office on January 20. Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen also mentioned Indonesia in an Army Radio interview. However, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry denied any such efforts were underway and reaffirmed its support for Palestinian statehood, CNN Indonesia reported.
US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said more Israeli-Arab normalization deals are on the way, when he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday in Jerusalem.
“The momentum is now on the side of the peacemakers,” O’Brien said, adding that, “others will follow because the way of peace is far better than the way offered by terrorists... and radical clerics.” “Peace deals are becoming a regular event,” O’Brien joked.
“Nations in the region are putting aside old ideas and old grievances and embracing a better future,” O’Brien said. “They are embracing a better future based on shared goals and shared interests,” he added. O’Brien noted that the normalization agreement with Morocco was particularly special because so many Israelis “trace their ancestry through Morocco, so as big as these other deals have been, this is a special deal.” Netanyahu thanked US President Donald Trump and his team for the work they have done to bring the deals to fruition.
He joked that in light of the four deals with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, “Israelis now are faced with a great dilemma. Where to go? Dubai or Morocco? Abu Dhabi or Morocco? “I’m sure we’ll resolve that one. We’ll go to both,” Netanyahu added.
On Friday, Oman welcomed the announcement of ties between Israel and Morocco, expressing hope that they “will further endeavor to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.” Netanyahu visited Oman in 2018 and met with its then-leader, the late Sultan Qaboos. Israel had unofficial trade relations with Oman in 1994-2000, and the countries cooperate in opposing Iranian aggression. Israel and Indonesia do not have formal diplomatic relations, but they cooperate in trade and tourism. Indonesia bought arms from Israel in the 1970s and 1980s, and Indonesian soldiers have trained in Israel. In 1993, prime minister Yitzhak Rabin met Indonesian president Suharto in Jakarta.
Contrary to Hebrew media reports, the diplomatic source said normalization with Saudi Arabia was unlikely before US President-elect Joe Biden enters office, although the Saudis have given tacit approval to other parts of the Abraham Accords.