Oman to extend Israel boycott law

Parliament building Al-Bustan, Palace in Muscat in Oman

Oman’s Shura Council has recommended extending a law boycotting Israel to technical, cultural, economic and sporting fields, according to the nation’s official news agency.

WAF news agency reported that on December 26 the council referred a draft law to the Legislative and Legal Committee to complete procedural aspects, while Yaqoub Al-Harithi, Vice-President of the Omani Shura Council, explained that the proposal expands the scope of the boycott.

Al-Harthy later told media that the proposed amendment leads to “an expansion of criminalisation and an expansion of boycotting this entity.”

He said that the law in its current form “prohibits dealing with the Zionist entity,” whether for individuals or legal persons.

He added that “the brothers, Your Excellencies (members of the Shura Council who applied for the request) looked at the development taking place, whether it was technical, cultural, economic or sports, and proposed additional amendments that include severing any economic, sports or cultural relations and prohibiting dealing in any way or means, whether it was a real meeting (or) an electronic meeting (or) something else.”

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman, Badr Bin Hamad Al-Busaidi, welcomed the Shura Council’s vote.

He described it as “an embodiment of the aspirations of the Omani people and other regional countries to reach a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause, in accordance with international standards and the Arab Peace Initiative.”

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The move by Oman comes as Israel is pushing for overflight rights in the Gulf country to shorten the travel route to India.

Israel has sought to expand the U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords under which it normalised ties with four Arab countries in 2020 and 2021 – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.

Oman and Saudi Arabia are often spoken of as the two most likely countries to join the accords, but since the ascension of the new sultan, Haitham bin Tarik, to the throne in 2020 Muscat seems to have taken a tougher stance on Tel Aviv.

Previously Israel and Oman had trade relations from 1994-2000 even though they never formalised ties.

In 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the now-deceased Omani Sultan Qaboos.

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