Oman has decided to shut its commercial representation in Tel Aviv and Israel's trade office in Muscat, in yet another setback for the Middle East's battered peace process, the foreign ministry announced Thursday.
The measure was taken "in line with the sultanate's support of the cause of the Palestinian people and their inalienable rights," the ministry said in a statement carried by the official ONA news agency.
“Oman announces the closure of its commercial bureau in Tel Aviv and that of Israel in Muscat," it said.
“The establishment of a just and overall peace in the Middle East remains a priority for the sultanate of Oman," the statement said, without mentioning the Israeli missile attacks on Palestinian targets during the day.
Oman opened its bureau in Tel Aviv in August 1996 but the representative was recalled in January 1997, although the office was not officially closed, and conditioned a return on real progress in the Middle East peace talks.
Qatar and Oman are the only Gulf Arab states where Israel has any official representation. Diplomatic relations were not established but Israel opened trade offices in Doha and Muscat.
Oman's minister responsible for foreign affairs Yussef bin Alawi met Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in New York during the UN Millennium Summit last month.
It was the first reported meeting between a senior Omani official and an Israeli leader since 1995. It followed a meeting between Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Barak on September 8, also in New York.
Former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin visited Muscat in December 1994 – MUSCAT (AFP)
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