TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday extended his condolences on the passing of Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, describing the late leader as a “noble soul” and “promoter of peace.”
“Around a year ago I visited Oman and I had a very moving meeting with Sultan Qaboos Bin Said. This meeting impressed me more than anything. We spent almost two whole days together,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, referring to a surprise trip to Muscat in October 2018.
“He impressed me with the nobility of his soul, his wise leadership and the changes he made in Oman as he turned it into an advanced country in the region and a state that systematically strived to advance stability and peace in the region,” he said.
“We send our condolences to the Omani people,” the prime minister went on.
Netanyahu congratulated the appointment of the new sultan, Haitham bin Tariq, and welcomed his promise to continue the foreign policy of his predecessor.
“The opportunity to develop new relations with Arab countries, this possibility is greater than ever. We are working on it, I am working on it, every day, including recently. I believe that this can bear fruit soon,” Netanyahu said.
The Foreign Ministry called Qaboos “a leader and a friend” and hailed him as a brave “man of peace and reconciliation.”
“We are with you in your grief,” a statement from the ministry addressed the Omani people.
Qaboos has good relations with Jerusalem, dating back to the 1970 with Qaboos ascension. The Gulf sultanate was an outlier in the Arab world for not contesting the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. It also opened a trade office in Tel Aviv in the mid-1990s (that was shuttered in 2000 after the Second Intifada kicked off.)
Netanyahu’s visit to Oman was the first time an Israeli leader had visited the Gulf state in an official capacity since 1996. Qaboos was also the first Arab leader to host an Israeli prime minister — Yitzhak Rabin in 1994.