In Brief: Oman formally bans ties with Israel amid Iran intimidation

Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tariq Al Said > US State Department, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The parliament of Oman, which has widely been speculated to be a prime candidate for future diplomatic normalisation with Israel, voted last week to criminalise relations or interactions with “the Zionist entity”.

The legislation would “severe any economic, sports or cultural relations” and “prohibit dealing in any way or means, whether it was a real meeting, an electronic meeting or something else”, a statement by the parliament’s vice president said.

Oman has a history of relatively close ties with Israel, having never taken part in a war against the Jewish state and establishing unofficial trade relations in the early 2000s.

Three Israeli prime ministers – Yitzhak Rabin (1994), Shimon Peres (1996) and Benjamin Netanyahu (2018) – have been welcomed to Oman, despite the two countries never having had formal diplomatic ties.

The move is thought to reflect Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq’s friendlier attitude towards Iran, as well as being a reaction to Israel’s new hard-right government.

Iran has conducted military exercises off Oman’s coast in recent weeks.

Analyst Tom Gross told the Times of Israel that the legislation is “primarily designed to appease the Iranian regime” and that relations with Israel “will likely continue, albeit more quietly”.