Oman’s FM: We Help Bring Palestinians, Israelis Together, We are not Intermediaries

Oman’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Yousuf bin Alawi in 14th IISS Manama Dialogue

Oman is offering ideas to help Israel and the Palestinians to come together but is not acting as mediator, according to Oman’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Yousuf bin Alawi.

Speaking at the 14th IISS Manama Dialogue regional security summit in Bahrain, Alawi added, “If we do not reach a radical solution in Palestine, the Palestinians will never enjoy security and the entire Arab region will not settle, and terrorism will not end.”

The FM asserted that his country relies on the United States and efforts by President Donald Trump in working towards this “deal of the century”, noting that: “Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this, the world is also aware of this fact and maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same and also bear the same obligations”.

Referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said: “We do not say that the road is paved, but our priority is to end the conflict and move to a new world.”

Bin Alawi’s statement comes after Netanyahu’s rare visit to Oman, and days after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas paid a three-day visit to the country and met Omani leader Sultan Qaboos.

Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Abbas welcomed this, adding that the Palestinian president supports any intervention that could save the situation.

The sources stressed that the president wants Arab countries within an international mechanism along with the United States, Russia, the United Nations and other countries. Abbas was apparently aware of contacts and meetings with Netanyahu.

The President banned any abuse of the Sultanate of Oman and ordered spokesmen and officials to refrain from commenting on Qaboos’s meeting with Netanyahu and withdraw any comments on the issue.

The Palestinian Authority remained silent about the meeting, and Fatah officials were forced to withdraw their comments on rejecting “normalization”.

It was not known if Oman would succeed in achieving a breaking through, but Palestinian sources ruled out this in light of current complexities.

Ramallah preferred if Netanyahu wasn’t greeted in such a way that others would not be encouraged to start a public normalization with Israel.

However, this is not the first senior Israeli official to the Sultanate, as former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin visited Oman in 1994 and was received by Qaboos. Few days after Rabin’s assassination, Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres hosted Omani Foreign Minister Yousef bin Alawi in Jerusalem. In January 1996, Israel and Oman signed an agreement on the mutual opening of commercial representation offices.

Netanyahu’s recent visit is the first public contact between Israel and Oman and came after a series of long negotiations.

Netanyahu was accompanied by “Mossad” chief Yossi Cohen, National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabbat and Foreign Ministry Director-General Yuval Rotem.

“Among the issues discussed were ways to advance the peace process in the Middle East as well as several matters of joint interest regarding the achievement of peace and stability in the Middle East,” said a joint statement by the two leaders.

In contrast to the PA’s position, Hamas warned about the dangerous consequences of Netanyahu’s visit rejecting all types of normalization with the Israeli occupation.

Hamas “deplores the acceleration of normalization with the Israeli entity” which serves as “an encouragement and cover for the Zionist enemy to commit more crimes and violations against the Palestinian people, and a stab in the back,” the organization said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Iranian Parliament Speaker’s Special Aide Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that the Friday meeting with Israeli regime’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is far from the wisdom of Oman’s Sultan Qaboos.

In a Saturday tweet and in reaction to Netanyahu’s unannounced trip to Oman, Amir-Abdollahian wrote, “the meeting of Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of the illegitimate Israeli regime, with Sultan Qaboos in Oman is far from the known wisdom of Sultan Qaboos,” according to Mehr News Agency.

‘Palestine Deal of the Century’ will not be fruitful for Trump and Netanyahu, he asserted.

(Source / 28.10.2018)

Oman: Activist arrests threaten freedom of expression

Oman introduced limited reforms after protests last year, but tight restrictions on freedom of expression remain.Oman introduced limited reforms after protests last year, but tight restrictions on freedom of expression remain.

This constitutes a blatant attempt to stamp out freedom of expression, by effectively criminalizing dissenting opinions in Oman

Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International
Fri, 15/06/2012

A string of arrests of activists, writers, lawyers, and bloggers mainly in the Omani capital Muscat constitutes an attack on freedom of expression and assembly that must be halted, Amnesty International said.

On 11 June alone, the authorities arrested at least 22 people protesting peacefully outside the police headquarters in Muscat, bringing to at least 33 the number of protest-related arrests in recent weeks.

Just a week prior to this on 4 June, Oman’s Public Prosecution issued a statement saying legal action would be taken against anyone who publishes “offensive writing” in the media or online that is deemed to be “inciting” others to action “under the “the pretext of freedom of expression”.

“This constitutes a blatant attempt to stamp out freedom of expression, by effectively criminalizing dissenting opinions in Oman,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

“Anyone detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly would be a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

Protests in Oman in early 2011 – sparked by popular unrest across the Middle East and North Africa – led to a number of political and social reforms, but tight restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly remain in place. Scores were arrested and many brought to trial in 2011 with at least one man reported to have died when police forcibly dispersed protesters in the town of Sohar.

The recent series of protest-related arrests began on 31 May 2012, when the Special Division of Omani Police detained three activists who attempted to travel to Fohoud oil field, some 250 km south-west of Muscat, to document an oil workers’ strike that started a week earlier.

The three detainees – lawyer Yaqoub al-Kharousi and activists Habeeba al-Hina’i and Ismail al-Muqbali from the newly formed Omani Group for Human Rights – were held incommunicado for five days before being allowed to contact their families.

When Habeeba al-Hina’i’s lawyer sought to meet her on 2 June, the Public Prosecutor’s office denied his request on the basis that his client had not been referred to the prosecution.

The three activists reportedly have been charged in connection with inciting a protest, with Habeeba al-Hina’i and Yaqoub al-Kharousi later released on bail on 4 June.

Since then, more activists have been arrested, but the exact number of detainees is unknown.

On 2 June activists Khalfan al-Badwawi and Ishaq al-Aghbari were arrested.

On 8 June alone, around six more activists were arrested, including writer Hamoud al-Rashidi and poet Hamad al-Kharousi.

On 10 June a public prosecutor confirmed the arrests in the Times of Oman stating “we are keeping a watch on the bloggers who use such platforms”.

Then came the arrests on 11 June of at least 22 people – including activists, writers, lawyers, and bloggers – who were held over their protest at the police headquarters calling for the release of those previously arrested and still detained.

Two of those at least 22 detainees were released, but it is not known whether they were charged with a crime.

The remainder are still being held at Sumail Central Prison – 90 km north of Muscat – and have been reportedly charged with inciting or taking part in a protest.

A day after their arrest, they were allowed to call their families and have had been in touch about every four days since.

Among them is prominent female lawyer Basma al-Kiyumi, who was previously arrested on 14 May 2011 during a peaceful protest in front of the Shura Council in Muscat along with 14 others. She was released on bail two days later and charged with participating in an unlawful gathering.

At least one of the men, 35-year-old Saeed al-Hashimi, went on hunger strike in protest against the group’s ongoing detention. He was admitted to Sumail Hospital on 14 June after he was believed to have lost consciousness.

He has since been returned to prison. It is believed he is continuing his hunger strike, and his family has still not been allowed to visit him yet.

Recent reports emerged that the female detainees have begun refusing to drink water.

“By all accounts, those still being held at Sumail Central Prison appear to be there on the basis of charges linked solely to their participation in peaceful protests – they must be released without delay or condition and all charges related to the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and assembly must be quashed,” said Philip Luther.

“Saeed al-Hashimi and all others who need medical treatment must have it provided, and all the activists detained in recent weeks must be granted access to their families and lawyers.”

( / 15.06.2012)

Sultanate and Palestine / Cooperation

Muscat, Jan 7 (ONA)- An MoU between Oman News Agency (ONA) and the Palestinian News and Information Agency (PNIA) was signed at ONA HQs’ here today to enhance the cooperation between the two news agencies.

The MoU was signed by Zamzam bint Sulaiman al-Rashidiyah, Director General and Editor-in-Chief of Oman News Agency and Riyadh al-Hassan, Chairman of the Palestinian News and Information Agency.

In a statement to ONA, Riyadh al-Hassan, Chairman of the Palestinian News and Information Agency said that the visit to ONA aims at enhancing cooperation between ONA and the PNIA through exchange of images, news, enhancing the relations in general and developing the skills and expertise between the two parties.

He added that the MoU will open the door for diversified and multiple activities that will contribute to exchanging benefits and enhancing cooperation in the field of correspondents, who will be provided with every possible assistance and support to complete their job properly.

He pointed out that this cooperation aims at enhancing the Sultanate’s status with the Palestinian reader and followers of the Palestinian media men through encouraging the Omani investments in Palestine and encouraging the Palestinian tourism in the Sultanate. Moreover, it will give the Palestinian readers daily glimpses on the Sultanate, its geographic location and its rich history.

He pointed out that the future of cooperation between the two agencies is promising; thanks to the easy communication and use of modern technologies.

He affirmed that ONA is qualified to play this role and wished it further progress and prosperity. He hoped that the MoU will be turned into procedures that enhance and improve production by the two agencies.

( / 07.01.2012)

Broad trade co-operation with Palestine discussed

MUSCAT — Khalil bin Abdullah al Khonji, Chairman of Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI), yesterday received Dr Ahmed Mejdalani, Labour Minister and acting Agriculture Minister of Palestine, and his accompanying delegation currently visiting the Sultanate. They discussed developing trade exchange and enhancing relations of investment partnership between the Omani private sector and its Palestinian counterpart.

The two sides praised co-operation in organising the Palestinian products exhibition recently. They also stressed the importance of developing the experience and expanding such exhibitions in future, besides stressing the importance of activating visits exchange between businessmen and women and organising mutual visits for trade delegations.

OCCI intend to organise a visit for an Omani trade delegation to Palestine next year on invitation from the Palestinian side. The Palestinian minister commended the march of development in the Sultanate and stressed the keenness of the Palestinian side to develop all aspects of joint co-operation and enhancing interests with the Sultanate. The meeting also affirmed three key points. First, acceleration of signing the agreement of establishing an Omani-Palestinian Business Council to shoulder the assignments of founding and fostering trade and investment relations between the private sector, businessmen and women, their counterparts in Palestine.
Second, introduce appropriate mechanisms to develop joint trade and investment exchange, which can be achieve through the proposed Business Council. Third point deals with co-operation in the manpower field in the private sector, particularly the Palestinian skilled manpower in fields, such as information technology (IT), services of tourism, banks, exhibitions, management, health and engineering services, in addition to benefiting from high expertise from university professors, besides co-operation in food and agriculture products area.
The meeting was attended by Dr Is’haq bin Ahmed al Ruqaishi, Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry’s Under-Secretary for Agriculture, Dr Lu’ay Issa, Palestinian Ambassador to the Sultanate and OCCI Board members.

( / 23.10.2011)

Oman komt met geld betogers tegemoet

Sultan Qaboos bin Said. ANP
Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

Oman is van plan om omgerekend 1,8 miljard euro uit te geven om de eisen van de demonstranten te bevredigen. Dat meldde de staatstelevisie zondag op gezag van het kantoor van sultan Qaboos bin Said.

In het doorgaans rustige en stabiele land wordt sinds twee maanden gedemonstreerd voor meer banen en politieke hervormingen. De betogingen zijn in vergelijking met andere landen in de Arabische regio relatief klein.

Waar het geld precies aan wordt besteed, maakte het kantoor van de sultan niet bekend. Eerder ontsloeg Qaboos al twaalf ministers, stelde een werkloosheidsuitkering in en verhoogde de lonen van ambtenaren.

( / 17.04.2011)