As the United States- and Poland-sponsored conference on the Middle East started in Warsaw, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met publicly with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Netanyahu greeted bin Alawi and recalled his trip the Gulf nation last October, saying, “The courageous decision of Sultan Qaboos to invite me to Oman is changing the world. It’s pointing the way for many others to do what you said, not to be stuck in the past, but to seize the future.”
The prime minister expressed his belief that “many are following this lead, and may I say, including in this conference.”
The foreign minister responded, “This is an important and new vision for the future. People of the Middle East have suffered a lot because they are stuck to the past. This is a new era for the future and for prosperity for every nation.”
The Jerusalem Post reported that though more than 60 nations will be represented at the conference, Netanyahu will be the only head of state attending.
Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz announced earlier this week that, in addition to Israel, other Middle Eastern nations to be represented at the conference will include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Tunisia.
An adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the conference, characterizing it as “a huge American conspiracy against our people and their cause.”
The Palestinians are said to back the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for Arab normalization with Israel once peace with the Palestinians is achieved. The “deal of the century,” which is being formulated by the administration of President Donald Trump, will, in the Palestinian view, push for normalization even before there’s a peace agreement.
The Palestinians were invited to attend the conference but refused.
Dear Martin- sorry but sources have misinformed you. The US did invite the Palestinians to join the conference and would have welcomed them there. They declined. https://t.co/O7jfMekvdG
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) February 13, 2019
When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo introduced the idea of the conference, he focused on Iran’s role in destabilizing the Middle East, but the summit has since been characterized by more generally focusing on peace and security in the region. Pompeo will be leading the conference along with Vice President Mike Pence.
Dore Gold, the former director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explained the significance of the Warsaw conference and how it would highlight the threat of Iran to the region.
“It’s not Israel in the front row, and Arab states secretly promoting an agenda to get Iran out of Syria,” Gold told The New York Times. “It’s overt, public, and only strengthens the case that Israel’s been making over the last year.”
[Photo: Government Press Office ]