01/02/2023, 10.58
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Muscat: Parliament passes law criminalising relations with Israel

The new law passed at the end of the year expands the boycott and punishes public or private relations with persons or entities in the Jewish state. Analysts speak of a blow to Israeli hopes of expanding the "Abraham Accords". For the Sultanate, any prospect of relations is tied to the Palestinian cause and the two-state solution. 

Mascate (AsiaNews) - Oman's parliament has approved a law broadening the boycott against Israel, declaring relations of an economic, commercial or diplomatic nature with the Jewish State a criminal offence.

At the end of the year, the 86-member Consultative Assembly passed the law tightening the blockade in line with Arab League guidelines, making it illegal for its citizens to communicate or meet - for any purpose - with Israeli public or private figures.

Assembly Deputy Speaker Yaaqoub al-Harethi, relayed by the official Waf news agency, said that the amendment proposed by several lawmakers aims to "expand the criminalisation and boycott of the Zionist entity".

Analysts and experts call the vote a blow to Israel's hopes of expanding its reach within the Arab and Middle Eastern world, with the aim of cornering and encircling the Iranian 'enemy'. 

For Mascate, like other nations in the area including the Saudis, 'progress' is needed on the Palestinian issue and the resumption of dialogue with real prospects on the two-state solution, which the most right-wing Israeli government ever seems to be shelving, however.

The Sultanate of Oman is considered the most important mediator in the region between the two great Muslim powers: Sunni Saudi Arabia and the Shia Islamic Republic of Iran. 

Last July, Riyadh opened its airspace to Israeli aircraft, but for many experts this is a cosmetic move with no real benefits, at least until Oman takes a similar decision allowing overflights to the Far East.

The prospect seems remote at the moment, however, because even the Sultanate's Foreign Minister Badr Bin Hamad Al-Busaid welcomed the parliamentary vote.

The decision, he emphasised, represents 'the embodiment of the aspirations of the people of Oman and other nations in the region to reach a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause'. In this regard, he called for compliance with "international standards" and the "Arab peace initiative". 

In the recent past, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain - along with Sudan and Morocco - have established diplomatic relations with Israel as part of the 'Abraham Accords' sponsored in 2020 by former US President Donald Trump.

Other nations such as Iraq have confirmed - at least on an official level - their hard line with the Jewish state, passing a law stipulating the death penalty for those who establish relations or trade.

After all, Baghdad has never recognised Israel as an autonomous and sovereign entity since its birth in 1948, and parliamentarians in Baghdad are firmly convinced that the country "will never adhere" to the agreements, in spite of the invitations and pressures coming from many quarters (read Washington).

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