22:22 GMT +321 July 2019
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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks at maps with Sultan Qaboos bin Said in this undated handout provided by the Israel Prime Minister Office, in Oman

    'Occupation is Baloney': Netanyahu Says 'Power' Key to Thaw With Arabs - Reports

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    Earlier, Iran accused the Israeli prime minister of attempting to create a rift among Muslim states and to "cover up its 70-year-long occupation of Palestine" after Netanyahu travelled to Oman for a surprise visit.

    "Power is the most important [component] of foreign policy. 'Occupation' is baloney. There were huge countries that have occupied and transferred populations and no one talks about them," Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly said, speaking to Likud Party lawmakers in a closed door meeting on Monday, The Times of Israel has reported, citing local media.

    "Power changes everything, and it changes our policies vis-à-vis Arab states, and there are other countries on the way," Netanyahu was further quoted as saying, in apparent reference to Tel Aviv's improving relations with the Gulf states in spite of traditional tensions over the Palestinian issue.

    Speaking about negotiations on a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Netanyahu reportedly said that "[c]ontrary to the notion that concessions will bring about agreements with the Arabs, concessions will only bring about slight and short-term changes and nothing more. What we need to do is advance [talks] on shared interests with Israel based on technological power."

    Netanyahu paid a visit to Oman, a Gulf country with whom Israel has no diplomatic relations, on Thursday to speak about advancing "a number of issues of mutual interest to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East." The director of Mossad and Netanyahu National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat accompanied the prime minister on the visit.

    Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi blasted Netanyahu's Oman visit, describing it as an attempt to cause a rift in relations between Muslim states, and urged Middle Eastern countries not to allow Tel Aviv to create "further trouble for the region."

    Israel has enjoyed improving relations with a number of Arab countries in recent months amid reported US plans to create a so-called "Arab NATO" to try to contain Iranian influence in the Middle East. In August, Netanyahu hinted that Israel might join the new anti-Iranian coalition if Tehran attempted to block the strait between Yemen and Africa which serves as the entrance to the Red Sea.


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    baloney, claims, power, Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Israel, Middle East
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